The Delta Force (1986) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • When the terrorists Abdul Rafai and Mustafa hijack a Boeing 707 in Athenas with 144 passengers and crew, they use a grenade to force Captain Campbell to fly to Beirut, Lebanon, instead of to Rome and New York. Meanwhile the Delta Force commanded by Colonel Nick Alexander and Major McCoy are assigned to resolve the situation. Abdul and Mustafa separate the Jewish and Marine passengers and they are transported to Beirut, while twelve other terrorists embark on board. Then they fly to Algiers, where the women and children are released. McCoy and the Delta Force team are prepared to attack the plane when Alexander learns that there are now fourteen terrorists on board and not only two, and he aborts the mission. Abdul kills a Marine and returns to Beirut with the male passengers on board. Now the Delta Force needs to act in two locations crowded of terrorists to release the hostages. Will they succeed?

  • A 707 aircraft jetliner on its way from Athens to Rome and then to New York City is hijacked by Lebanese terrorists. The terrorists demand that the pilot take them to Beirut. What the terrorists don't realize is that an elite team of commandoes led by Major McCoy (Norris) and by Colonel Alexander (Marvin) as been called into service to eliminate all terrorists on the jetliner and who's involved in the hijacking and try to retake the plane before the terrorists kill all the hostages.

  • After a plane is hijacked by terrorists, The Delta Force are sent in to resolve the crisis.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film opens up on April 24, 1980 during Operation Eagle Claw, the American operation to rescue American hostages being held at the U.S. embassy to Tehran. The operation is being aborted after a fatal helicopter crash in the Iranian desert, with the U.S. Delta Force evacuating to their C-130 transports. Among them is Captain Scott McCoy (Chuck Norris), who, against orders, rescues his wounded comrade Pete Peterson (William Wallace) from the burning helicopter before the team finally evacuates. McCoy expresses his disgust for President Carter as well as the politicians and military hierarchy that forced the mission to launch despite the risks, and announces he is resigning his commission.

    Five years later, a group of Lebanese terrorists armed with a Colt M1911, PM-63 machine pistol and AK-47s hijack American Travelways Boeing 707 (ATW) Flight 282 that is on a flight from Cairo to Athens to Rome and to New York City. Taking all 144 passengers and crew hostage, the group, an Iranian pro-Khomeini New World Revolutionary Organization, led by Abdul Rafai (Robert Forster) and Mustafa (David Menachem), forces Captain Roger Campbell (Bo Svenson) and his crew to fly the plane to Beirut, Lebanon, where they make demands to the United States government that, if not met, will result in the death of the hostages. During the crisis, they separate the Jewish passengers from the Americans by forcing the flight attendant to identify them, who is hesitant to do so because she is German. Unbeknownst to the Lebanese authorities, the Jewish hostages are then taken off the plane and transported to a militant-controlled area of Beirut, while a dozen additional henchmen are brought on board. The plane departs for Algiers, where the terrorists release the female hostages and children.

    Meanwhile, the Delta Force, led by the veteran Colonel Nick Alexander (Lee Marvin) and McCoy, recalled to active duty. McCoy is promoted promoted to Major and told to serve under Colonel Alexander. The Delta Force is deployed to resolve the crisis as the team flies to Algiers to deal with the hijackers. Once the female hostages are evacuated, the Delta commandos launch their assault, only to discover too late that there are additional hijackers and inadvertently alert the terrorists. Abdul kills one hostage, a US Navy SEAL diver named Tom, and forces the pilots to return to Beirut, taking the remaining male passengers with him. Delta Force gives chase to rescue the hostages.

    Upon landing again in Beirut, the terrorists transport the passengers to a separate location, while the pilots remain in the aircraft. Using a sympathetic Greek Orthodox priest, Israeli Army Intelligence prepares an operation to free the hostages. In a prolonged campaign against the terrorists, McCoy goes behind enemy lines to bid their time to identify the terrorist leaders and the locations of the hostages. Once their locations are discovered, McCoy escapes and relays this information to Alexander. The Delta group assaults the terrorist holdouts, freeing the hostages and evacuating them to the airport.

    During the battle, McCoy, Peterson and their team hunt down Abdul and his men, killing most of the militants before Abdul shoots Peterson, gravely injuring him. McCoy chases Abdul and tracks him down to an abandoned house. He then engages him into a vicious hand-to-hand fight, breaking Abdul's arm. As the terrorist leader prepares to shoot McCoy, he is killed after McCoy launches a rocket into his car.

    With the hostages and rescue teams secured, the team seizes Flight 282 by secretly infiltrating the airfield through a cotton field. Using silenced weapons, Alexander and the Delta team assassinates the terrorist guards including the last hijacker and saves the crew, ordering them to fly to Israel. The team boards the plane with all of the hostages, taking off just as McCoy is the last one to board the plane after having destroyed several terrorist jeeps on the runway with his motorcycle armament.

    On board the team tends to the wounded passengers and Pete who is now dying. After having confirmed that the hostages are safe and en route home, Pete says his farewells to McCoy before succumbing to his wounds. In the main cabin the ex-hostages and Delta commandos join together in a rousing rendition of "America The Beautiful", not knowing about Pete's death.

    In Israel, the plane lands safely and the Jewish hostages are greeted by their families, while Delta Force disembarks with Pete's body in tow. McCoy, Alexander and the rest of the team concludes their operation and departs for the United States amidst celebrations by the people.

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