sitemap Maryland, Mistral, Meyer and the Middle East

The Mistral Missile, Major Meyer and the Middle East

     They drew all manner of things --- everything that begins with an M ---
such as mousetraps,
and the moon, and memory, and muchness ---
you know you say things are "much of a muchness".

Lewis Carroll


Back in October 1994 the Maryland State bomb squad dealt with an interesting French object...

October 11, 1994     Associated Press report datelined 09/28 23:55 EDT V0009 (1994)
A State bomb squad destroyed a French-made surface to air rocket launcher armed with a live missile and explosives ....along a rural roadside in Westminster, Maryland.

Though the object apparently was a Mistral anti-tank weapon it was no doubt recalled by the FBI shortly after the TWA 800 downing ....

August 23, 1996      NY Times
Mr. Kallstrom ordered his agents to research the Mistral, a French-made missile that could be launched from a tripod and that would have had the range capability.

Given the damage to some of the seats in the TWA 800 aircraft and the numerous eyewitness reports of a projectile rising towards the plane .......

August 30, 1996 NY Times
Federal investigators have created a simulation of the final moments of TWA 800 showing that almost everything ...first... blown... from the airplane came from... the right side of the jet, above and ahead of the wing. ... The... traces of ..PETN ... were also discovered in this general area. ..... An aviation expert and a law enforcement official who is an explosives specialist both said they saw several fist-size holes that had been punched through the backs of two seats on the far right side of row 23. The holes in the sheet metal on the seat back are pushed through from the rear .... and row 24, the seats just behind them is missing ..... traces of ...PETN ... were also found in this general area.

the FBI may have been thinking about "tungsten balls".   But first to Major Meyer....

March 10, 1997      Aviation Week and Space Technology
Two NY Air National Guard pilots with the best view of the crash of TWA 800 ....... One believes the airliner was struck by a fast-moving object coming from the east, while the other saw a fiery trail from the west.... Meyer's attention was first called to the area ...."by a streak of light moving from my right (west) to my left (east)," the same direction as the TWA flight, he said.....Baur, on the left side of the cockpit, saw a streak moving from left to right toward the approaching TWA aircraft before the initial explosion. The streak of light that Meyer saw .....was red-orange in color .....there was what Meyer describes as a hard, very sudden, yellowish-white explosion that looked identical to the detonation of an antiaircraft shell ....."It left a cloud of smoke just like a flak explosion does," Meyer said. "One to two seconds later, there was a second, hard explosion almost pure white in color ... almost immediately there was a third explosion and fireball....Baur also saw three explosions ...

And the Mistral raised its head over at the House Subcommittee hearings where there was a worry about the Middle East specifically, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Islamic fundamentalist movements .....

July 10, 1997     The Subcommittee on Aviation Hearing  - "Status of the Investigation of the Crash of TWA 800 and the Proposal Concerning the Death on the High Seas Act"
While many experts believe Flight 800 was out of the range of the American-made Stinger missile, there are some foreign surface-to air missiles that reportedly have the capability of shooting a plane at 13,800 feet. One of these missiles that has been mentioned is the French-made Mistral. The Mistral has been sold to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, countries with growing Islamic fundamentalist movements.

Meyer provided some more details about his observations of the TWA 800 downing ....

July 29, 1997     Riverside Press
An Air National Guard helicopter pilot who witnessed the explosion of TWA Flight 800 believes the jetliner was downed by an explosive projectile, The Press-Enterprise newspaper reported today. Frederick C. Meyer, one of two helicopter pilots who saw the plane explode, said he did not know what the projectile was or where it came from, but is convinced he saw an"ordnance explosion'' near the plane. Meyer, a lawyer and former Vietnam War helicopter pilot, has already been interviewed by investigators but is speaking out again after FBI and National Transportation Safety Board officials made public statements giving mechanical causes as the most likely reason for the disaster. Investigators say an explosion in the center fuel tank brought down the Boeing 747, but they don't know what caused it and have never ruled out a bomb or missile. "I know what I saw.   I saw an ordnance explosion," Meyer told the Riverside newspaper. "And whatever I saw, the explosion of the fuel was not the initiator of the event.   It was one of the results.   Something happened before that which was the initiator of the disaster.''   Meyer, 57, said he saw a streak from west of the spot where the jetliner exploded. His co-pilot that night, Capt. Chris Baur, told investigators he saw a streak coming from the east. Baur has previously said he believed a missile struck the plane. Meyer said he believes there were two projectiles but could only testify about the one he saw. He refused to discuss Baur's statements, saying it would be inappropriate and would detract from the substance of each account. Meyer also said he could not say whether the object that struck Flight 800 was a missile.  "I don't know" he said. "It could have been. But there is a big difference between could have been and `I saw a missile.'" NTSB officials said Meyer's statements were new to them and that he had not previously shared his conclusions with investigators. Meyer said he sought out and spoke with two FBI agents the second day after the crash, but they did not ask any questions. A week later, Meyer said he met with FBI agents and told his story again. He also had two briefings with NTSB officials. One was in January, when officials spoke with him for five minutes, Meyer said.

One might wonder why modern analytical and metallurgical techniques would make no headway in over a year towards the identification of some orange metal pieces found amongst the TWA wreckage .....

October 8, 1996     The New York Times
For several weeks, some investigators pursuing the theory that a missile brought down the plane were intrigued by a persistent pile of unidentified metal shards, and thought they might be missile parts. But experts who began examining these pieces ...said they had not found any that appeared to come from a missile.

July 24, 1997   Southampton Press.
Official documents faxed mistakenly to a Riverhead resident recently show that the Federal Bureau of Investigation two months ago was investigating whether pieces of debris found among the wreckage of TWA Fight 800 were the remnants of an aerial target drone used by the U.S. Navy and other armed services in training exercises. The FBI apparently has since determined that the wreckage was not from the aerial target... the FBI had contacted Teledyen Ryan because FBI investigators suspected that orange pieces of debris found among the TWA Flight 800 wreckage might be parts of a Firebee. The Firebee is "95 percent" international orange in color, he said. Mr. Hittinger said Mr. Hamilton flew to the Calverton FBI facility and examined the debris..... "He (Mr. Hamilton) said it wasn't from our Firebee," said Mr. Hittinger.

September 22, 1997      Aviation Week & Space Technology
FBI agents in recent weeks have been working with government and industry safety investigators and aerospace manufacturers to identify a number of pieces of metal recovered from Flight 800's debris fields on the floor of the Atlantic.

Obviously the problem is more complicated than if the pieces had come from an old rusty anchor. Maybe they came from a "Mistral" or one of its military cousins?

The Mistral missile uses a two stage rocket propellant. The first stage ejects the missile from the launcher and spins the missile to provide stability in flight. The sustainer motor accelerates the missile to supersonic speed towards the target. The missile is equipped with an infra-red homing head supplied by SAT and based on an indium arsenide detector array operating in the 3 to 5 micron band of the infra-red spectrum. The missile has a 3kg high explosive warhead loaded with tungsten balls. The warhead is fitted with contact and proximity fuses.