I was shocked on 9/11 to read that only 7 fighter pairs were on scramble alert in the whole continental US. I was raised under the Russian bomber threat back in the '50s and '60s when the US had 1000 dedicated interceptors -- dedicated meaning they were not designed to handle dog fights or bombing, only bombers: huge F-89Ds in the '50s, first, with 6 20 mm cannon, then, upgraded to 104 2.5 inch rockets and the biggest radar and (analog?) firing computer available at the time. Later 1000 supersonic F-102s took over, then filled in with 400 F-106s.
Russians bombers are long ago but getting down to 14 planes that could not cover our largest city or capital city in time is just out of proportion. Didn't we just purchase 3000 F-16s and F-15s starting with Reagan era, not to mention Navy F-18s and F-14s? Only 7 fighter pairs?
Now comes a bigger surprise. The two F-16s designated to take down Flight 93 -- the one that crashed -- were on a suicide-crash mission because no missiles or bullets were available! !!!