[The call with the pilot of Southwest 4712 was by far the most interesting. He immediately notes how strange the encounter was and how he has never seen an incident like it in nearly 30 years of flying jets. The pilot noted, "if it was like a Lear (private jet) type airframe I probably would not have seen it this clear. This was a white airplane and it was big. And it was moving at a clip too, because we were keeping pace with it, it was probably moving faster than we were... It was a larger aircraft yeah."]
What's most interesting is how many people we're involved and of course... Someone is apparently flying some really advanced aircraft over the U.S.
Apparently? So many atmospheric effects can look the same to many people from a single perspective.
The military is a possibility, but I don’t know about “most likely” here.
Given that assumption, the answer to your questions are:
> Why military?
The assumption here is that the military goofed, didn't tell another branch about it (hence the USAF scrambled), and is avoiding either embarrasment or needs to keep the deployment of the craft as secret as possible. This probably happens on a regular basis (though if we have data on how often that happened during the Cold war, that'd be useful), and explains why USAF couldn't find anything.
> Not smugglers
I have never heard of smugglers having advanced aircraft that would be flying around Oregon; Seems pretty risky. Also, doesn't make a ton of sense as you presumably wouldn't be able to transport much with a high speed aircraft.
Definitely an interesting proposal, have you heard of smugglers having advanced aircraft?
> intelligence services
Possible; Which ones, the American Intelligence Services? If so, I believe the parent was lumping them in with 'military'.
Though it still seems more likely that this was just bad internal communication, mostly because I wouldn't expect a foreign spy plane to be ever be caught flying at high speeds; though it could be a generic attempt to test the US response. Be great if anyone has any data on how often that sort of thing happened during the Cold War.
> just an asshole
Seems very unlikely. What random assholes have access to advanced aircraft that can evade the USAF?
So under the assumption that this was an advanced aircraft, the most likely explanation is government, either the US's or a foreign intelligence service. Since presumably the US is in control of it's own airspace, the idea that this was the US itself seems the simplest explanation.
Intercepting an inbound russian is easy. He is comming towards you. An airliner moving away or past you at 200nm is exponentially more difficult.
Perhaps intentionally provocated a response from FAA, USAF, etc as a real-world test of the aircraft's stealth/evasion technology
Although Southwest flies 737s and the SWA pilot did report it was bigger...
Could be a routine ferry of Nightwatch/NEACP based on the same profile, but seems like NORAD and WADS would have caught that sooner. And kiboshed FOIA and not made public statements and all that. Nightwatch is operated by USAF, though, under high classification, while WADS reports up through the National Guard. Miscommunication seems at least plausible.
The SR71 was built in the 50s and still seems crazy advanced. I can't imagine what they are working on now.
The SR-71 is a 60's era aircraft. First flight in 64. Its predecessor, the A-12, flew in 62 with construction starting in Sept. 1960. Prior to that these aircraft were a series of paper designs beginning in the late 50's. Early versions of the J-58 were run in the late 50's, but these early engines were not flown in A-12/SR-71; substantial rework was needed to sustain mach 3.
But the rate at which information disperses changed since then. Big, covert, multi-decade military research projects might be possible if we entered a new Cold War. But in peacetime? While we’re navigating political junctures? Unlikely. (Though not impossible.)
In the context of the increasing evidence of Russian involvement in our elections and reports about their support of our enemies (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/05/17/evidence-russian-mil... or https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/04/24...) I'm not sure it's baseless fear mongering.
Greenwald isn't exactly an impartial source when it comes to Russia either - he has his own overt biases. It's healthy to be skeptical but naive to assume Russia is a benevolent actor on the world stage (even more so in the context of events like https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_17).
I'm not convinced of your smear against Greenwald as a pro-Russia journalist. As an openly gay man he would have a lot of difficulty there. And Jews have been fleeing Russia. As far as I can tell, his biggest bias to protect minorities like himself, so it would be exceptionally odd for him to be pro-Russia. There is certainly no evidence I have ever seen of that.
Anyways, before this election, if someone told me that Russia, China, Iran, etc, were all trying to influence US politics, hack US gov/bus, etc, I would say that is a given. Everyone knows that. There is a reason for the Russian fear mongering and not Chinese fear mongering, Saudi Arabian fear mongering, etc.
The bias I was referring to was not so much one of pro Russia but more one related to the particular focus that Greenwald/The Intercept seems to have on American policy. If you read their "About Us" page (https://theintercept.com/about/) it mentions that their mission is to "expose corruption and injustice __wherever__ they find it and hold the powerful accountable.". Personally I find it very interesting that they rarely seem to find examples of this in other contexts - the reporting is predominantly about American/western issues. I don't think I'm stretching to suggest that Greenwald/The Intercept wear their disdain for western foreign policy/hegemony openly.
This doesn't negate their reporting or perspective but it does make me question what impact this has on the conclusions they draw about the Russia issue, particularly when the public record shows questions about the role of Russia in relation to organizations such as Wikileaks. As you said - "There is a reason for the Russian fear mongering and not Chinese fear mongering, Saudi Arabian fear mongering". Personally I believe being skeptical also includes being open to the idea that extraordinary events can occur and the growing body of public evidence seems to suggest that the Russian influence was far greater than previous efforts.
The thing is, governments often turn out to be quite awful. Japan, China, Russia, Germany, Spain, etc, etc...
I love many things about America, and that's why I appreciate Greenwald. Who else is invested in investigating the un-American lies and corruption, who is looking to protect our civil liberties and constitutional rights? I don't think cable news is doing it.
it's more that russia is the demon we know is a demon. we can't tell whether our own governments are also demons as effectively, so he focuses on that.
I flew from Detroit to Boston a few years back in a 4-seat, single engine airplane after an electrical failure. On a hand-held radio and with no electrics, ATC had a good primary target on me the entire way (at 5-9K feet). On controller handoffs, I would have to turn north for 1 mile for them to confirm the primary target they were looking at was me.
Up and down the Eastern seaboard, I pretty regularly get traffic called out as "primary target only" which also means ATC has no idea of the altitude. Those tend to be low, slow moving aircraft (often without electrical systems).
Pilots, ground crew, flight controllers and so on, are not magically reliable. That said, it could be exactly as reported, but it might not be.