The NYPD Has Air-to-Air Capability

The Internet was aflame this morning with talk of  NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s statement to 60 Minutes last night that his department has the ability to shoot down aircraft. Naturally, this prompted people to ask if the department has some type of surface-to-air-missiles. We’ve seen talk about the militarization of America’s police departments over the past few decades but this would take things to a new level!

Here’s what Kelly told 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley:

Pelley: Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?

Kelly: Yes, I prefer not to get into the details but obviously this would be in a very extreme situation.

Pelley: You have the equipment and the training.

Kelly: Yes.

At the end of the day, it turns out that the NYPD isn’t running around with SL-AMRAAM’s (pronounced slam-ram) like the ones that defend Washington DC, Patriot missiles or even shoulder-fired Stinger missiles. Nope, the department’s anti-aircraft capacity comes from snipers trained to fire the famous Barrett .50 cal while flying in a police department helo. This is very similar to how the Coast Guard uses HH-65 Dolphin choppers to defend Washington DC against small, slow moving Cessna-style planes.

From the NY Post:

The weapon, which the department has had for four years, is stored in an NYPD safe and is deployed only for “special occasions,” such as when the president is in town, the sources added.

Let’s just hope the NYPD doesn’t start experimenting with using an AT-6 light attack plane for this mission like U.S. Northern Command did last November.

For more on helo-sniping, check out this post at sister site Kit Up!

Via Gizmodo and 60 Minutes.

  • blight

    It won’t be long before the NYPD invests in such capability. They already have a foreign intelligence agency and collaborate with the FBI and the CIA intimately. They own Floyd Bennett and use it to deploy helicopters, so with more tax hikes they could refurbish it to deploy light aircraft for emergency operations, and procure some armed AT-6’s.

    There would be some serious legal questions about acquiring weapons, since things as “basic” as the M2 aren’t in the law enforcement toolbox. Where air to air missiles would come from is kind of a mystery.

    • Posse Com?

      NYPD should send some cops to Mars and protect it from terrorists. This is insane!!!

  • ew-3

    Sad to see my hometown turned into Franco era Spain.

  • jamesb


    Everybody Calm TF down!

    The Offensive weapon is rumoured to be nothing less than mountable 50 cal. machine guns turrets…
    I would assume simple to machine build the stands on the city’s Agusta 109’s or Bell 412’s most likly since they would be like having Huey’s….

    My question is this?

    For the military to ‘shoot down an a/c the chain runs to a US General with National Command Authority….

    Is Kelly saying HE or The NYC Mayor can give that comamnd?

    Last is a Helo that can do about 120 gonna be able ‘catch up’ to a commerical jet?


    I’ll bet this one lands on Obama and the Joint Chiefs desk’s

    ref:….. .

  • Musson1

    On 9/11 – the pilot of the police helicopter flying over the twin towers was told he must do ‘whatever it took’ to keep another plane from hitting the buildings.

    In his case – he was suppose to crash his helicopter into the oncoming aircraft.

  • Zach

    When you’ve got the NYPD and Coasties flying MiGCAP in helos over NY and DC, you know something’s not quite right. The AT-6s would make a world of difference, or even better, a squadron of something along the line of Skyraiders. The only precedent for a helo-on-aircraft kill is the Air America incident, in any case.
    The option really isn’t a feasible one. Or perhaps it’s just my secret desire to see a Bae Hawk with AIM-9’s in NYPD markings patrolling the city.

  • tiger

    The NJ ANG 177th Fighter Wing Has F16’s Just Out Side Atlantic City. They are a Intercepter unit And can be over NYC With A hit of the burners.

    • blight

      Are they on 24 hour alert like the ominous old days?

      • tiger

        I don’t think we have any units on that status since 1996.

      • ew-3

        If they are not on alert, what would be so difficult about keeping at least two on alert? I’m sure they are on alert around DC.

  • Lance

    Just great to see the NYPD turn every bit as gestapo like with more and more military weapons in there hands and less accountability to use them and then they say how civilian should never own guns this is a sick mind set for America’s largest city.

  • DanS

    Would it be so hard to change the filter on this site so that the room at the front of the plane where the pilots drive isn’t half **** every time its used?

  • No Nym

    It is only a matter of time before SWAT and police chase types start calling for air support.

  • tiger

    I say close off NYC, mine the bridges & make it a prison with Lee van Cleef in Charge…….

  • Ben

    The problem with MANPADS like Stingers is that the traveling airplane still possesses a tremendous amount of momentum due to the simple physics of it – heavy weight, high speed, takes a lot to stop. MANPADS usually have such limited range (5 miles or less) that a lumbering passenger jet could not be stopped in time – it could be made to veer off course, perhaps, into another block of residential buildings nearby, maybe, like apartment units instead of the Empire State Building – but that’s really no better, of course, and you can’t just blow a Boeing 757 to smithereens. MANPADS have small warheads.

    To use an analogy, it would be a little bit like trying to use a blow dart to stop a raging elephant that is charging at you. To top it all off, MANPADS are usually infrared, and if you are trying to take down an airplane its exhaust would only be pointing at you if you were making a tail shot from behind, not from the front head-on.

  • TLAM Strike

    If no one else is going to say it I will:

    Blue Thunder!!

  • Tom Fitz

    given police force’s indiscriminate use of mace (and most recently in NYC) and tasers, I can’t say I’m happy about this.

  • Leonidas

    There is no one at 1 Police Plaza with the balls, much less the authority, to give the order to shoot down an aircraft. It will never happen. This is a case of the Police Commissioner’s old age catching up with him & getting the better of him during the interview. Ray Kelly has been around for way too long, and it’s time for him to go. Unfortunately, he has used 09/11/01 as a pretext to involve the NYPD in things no local police force should be involved with. This is yet another example. I despise the federal government, but I know there are somethings that it should be responsible for, i.e., air defense. Not a local police department.

  • Mike

    Stopping a light aircraft or hilo that has a dirty bomb or a chemical spraying system would be a good idea. buying 50 Cal rifles that are stored in an armory means its a waste of money. By the time you identify a threat its to late. As a counter sniper ability its a great idea buT again if its in an armory its a waste of money. The first responders will never have the time to put it into play.

  • tiger

    Can you picture Barney Fife Asking Andy for a SAM system for Mayberry?? “But Andy……”

  • Tad

    What a money saver. Maybe this could supplant BMD, too.

  • Deane Gilmour

    SHADES OF ROY SCHNIEDER. NYC the first of the country’s “Police States”. Unlike Kandahar, I guess those on the gound are acceptable collateral damage in NYC. This will continue to expand as long as the Fed REFUSES to do one of its FEW Constitutional mandates and protect the nation’s borders.

  • major.rod

    Guys, no stress. Saddam wanted the world to believe he had WMD to deter Iran. It worked, kinda…

  • Kski

    So if New York PD can have a AA ability. I guess there SWAT guys now bust up riots with military grade armored vehicles.

  • Leonidas

    As someone “in the know”, believe me, the NYPD is all “smoke & mirrors.” If the public only knew about the shenanighans that go on at 1 Police Plaza……

  • kyle

    a plane shot down would do just as much damage as a plane crashing deliberately. makes no sense

    • orly?

      Intended target vs unintended ground

      Nuclear plant vs 50 yards away from nuclear plant, which is better?

    • RetdusmCB

      yup your right I worked under this idiot and trust me how he gets these positions over these agencies is a great mystery. His common sense is, well, he has no damn common sense!


    If flying cars become popular, major cities around the country will need to deploy their own Apache attack helicopters just in case terrorists decide to take car-bombing to another level.

  • this is not a big deal
    first off it is not .50 machine guns it is just a sniper rifle
    2nd off any military sniper trained in that guna can hit a target travling at 200-250 kts, so the NYPD can train to do it
    3rd if it is a commercial jet it is the job of the Air Force or Navy to take it out
    and 4th there is protocal for all military (and even police departments) for downing aircraft over a populated area
    and lastly this rifile has been around forever the only knew thing about it is the rounds it shoots
    so calm down….

  • John

    This is OUTRAGEOUS!
    Consider a .50 cal slug that misses or is through-and-through. That slug falling from 1000 feet will kill a pedestrian!
    RE: targets moving at least 250 mph! Hopefully even the NYPD would not be stupid enough to fire at a target moving at that speed!
    This is OUTRADEOUS!

    • there are very few times that rifle is ever needed and with military aplication you will almost never see it used in a populated area like that, and again most of the air threats (even a small cessna is normaly intercepted by F16s) i agree it is a dumb idea and is not in need by the NYPD,but they are not guna walk around shooting for nothing (unless they want a S*** storm on their hands)

  • XAF2A6X4

    We have USAF/ANG and USN to protect our borders our borders for a reason! Maybe they were asleep at the switch on 9/11 but certainly not now. The last thing America or NY needs are a bunch of city sanctioned yahoos blazing away at unresponsive aircraft over crowded cities. This is something the DOD fighter jocks have training for, not to mention awareness of just what happens when you shootdown aircraft over populated areas. They have protocols and decision matrixes that are well established. What are NYC officials thinking anyway? Make the do their job, so that they can get back to their phony baloney jobs!

  • RetdusmCB

    Ray Kelly is a butt hole he was one when he ran U.S. Customs in the ground and he appears to be doing the same to NYPD. I wonder how many under the table weapons contracts he’s gotten like he did when he misguidedly transitions customs to the ineffective glocks we we issued in the dessert states???

  • Ramon
  • CaptainDoc

    i have serious doubts that nyc is paying for this type of equipt. at $8.50 a round they spend lots at practice and it takes lots of training to shoot air to air, even then it will be a 50/50 chance of killing more on the ground than in the air. the range a .50 has from the air is quite impressive. we should just let nyc withdraw from the US and provide their own army and navy as they have lots of equipt. now. then we could bill them for anything we provide. how assinine can you get; auto weapons fired from the air for cities to rain down 300 grain bullets onto the public that pays for their protection.

  • Shawn

    The NYPD has a long history of going up against non-criminal and unconventional threats to the City of New York. During World War Two, members of it’s Emergency Service Unit armed with elephant guns sat on top of the city’s bridges, ready to fire on any Nazi subs that came into New York Harbor.

  • jamesb

    Kelly update……NY Post 9/29/11
    In his first remarks about an attention-grabbing claim that police had the means to shoot down a terrorist plane, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday that the department could arm helicopters with .50-caliber guns to fire at small aircraft, not a commercial airliner.
    Kelly explained he was referring to crop-dusters that could be used to disperse anthrax or some other toxic material.
    The NYPD sent officers to Fort Dix, NJ, to train on shooting from aircraft so they could be armed with heavy machine guns, if necessary.
    “We didn’t want to be totally defenseless in a situation like that,” Kelly said yesterday.

    Read more:

  • Motive25

    I dunno- I kind of liked the image of a NYPD version of Dirty Harry with a Stinger. What a great bit of disinformation to deter terrorists that would be.

  • Leonidas

    That one about NYC cops being posted on bridges in the City during World War 2 to shoot at German U-boats is a myth. NYARNG troops were posted at locations believed in danger of sabotage. There was some police presence for law enforcement purposes, but protecting the City was the job of the Navy, which maintained extensive ASW defenses out in the Harbor and its approaches, and the Army, ashore.

  • Airwolf and Blue Thunder!!! That is all I got to add to this one!