A video clip widely circulated on the Internet shows a test that pulverized an F-4 fighter on impact with a hardened target, providing evidence to answer 9/11 skeptics who question why so little identifiable airplane debris remained after the hijacked American Airlines Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon.

The test, conducted in 1988 at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., was designed to demonstrate whether a proposed Japanese nuclear power plant could withstand the impact of a heavy airliner.

VIDEO: An F4 jet vaporizes on impact with a 700-ton concrete block

A rocket-propelled, 27-ton F-4 Phantom jet, attached to a sled, aimed to hit a 3.7 meter thick slab of concrete at a speed of about 475 miles per hour.

The mass of jet fuel was simulated by water, as the effects of fire following such a collision were not a part of the test.

The test established that the major impact force was from the engines.


F-4 fighter jet engines are considerably lighter than a commercial jet.

According to the Sandia test report, about 96 percent of the aircraft’s kinetic energy went into the airplane’s destruction and some minimal penetration of the concrete, while the remaining 4 percent was dissipated in accelerating the 700-ton slab.

The concrete slab was not fixed to the ground but actually was floating on an air cushion.

The test showed the major portion of the impact energy went into the movement of the target and not in producing structural damage to the target.

Except for some slight indentation, the concrete slab was largely undamaged by the impact.

Real-world nuclear power plant containments are, of course, anchored to the ground.

The video shows the F-4 jet pulverizing on impact. The only parts of the airplane that remain intact and recognizable are the very tips of the wings, which exceeded the concrete slab in width and were not involved in the direct impact.

Four different video views of the test and three still photographs are archived on the Sandia website’s video gallery.

The test was performed under terms of a contract with the Muto Institute of Structural Mechanics, Inc., of Toyko.

Sandia is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility. Sandia Corp., a Lockheed Martin company, manages Sandia for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs was first established in 1949 in Albuquerque.

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