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North American Aerospace Defense Command Plans Exercise With Russian Air Force

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Aug. 3, 2010 – The Russian air force and the North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct their first cooperative air defense exercise, NORAD officials announced.

Russia’s Federal Air Navigational Service and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration also will be involved in the exercise, officials said, along with the military air operations centers at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Khabarovsk, Russia.

The exercise, named Vigilant Eagle, will take place next week, and it involves Russian, Canadian and U.S. personnel operating from command centers in Russia and the United States. It’s authorized under a cooperative military agreement that tasks NORAD — a binational U.S. and Canadian command — and the Russian air force to conduct a “live-fly” exercise for up to five days, officials said.

It will consist of two international flights: one originating in Alaska and traveling to the Far East, followed by one originating in the Far East and traveling to Alaska. Both flights will follow the same route, officials said.

In the exercise scenario, a U.S.-flagged commercial air carrier on an international flight has been taken over by terrorists, and the crew will not respond to communications. The scenario creates a situation that requires both the Russian air force and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and follow the airliner.

The exercise will focus on shadowing and the cooperative hand-off of the monitored aircraft between fighters of the participating nations, officials explained.

The basic premise is that a U.S. flagged commercial air carrier on an international flight (Fencing 1220) has been taken over by terrorists. The aircraft will not respond to communications. The exercise scenario will create a situation that requires both the Russian Air Force and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and follow Fencing 1220. The exercise will focus on shadowing and the cooperative hand-off of the monitored aircraft (Fencing 1220) between fighters of the participating nations.

Airborne warning and control aircraft (AWACS E-3B and A-50) from Russia and the United States will be involved along with fighter-interceptor aircraft and refueling aircraft from both countries.

Source: MOD USA
Photo: Rob Vogelaar, ZAPP Group