Canada set to participate with U.S., Russia in Arctic air exercise
Aircraft will deal with "terrorist hijackers" and hijacked aircraft in international simulated emergency
As part of the “Operation Vigilant Eagle” military exercise, starting Aug. 27, fighter jets from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Russian air force will scramble to track and intercept “hijacked” commercial aircraft during an air defence exercise.
The exercise is viewed as “a steppingstone toward closer military-to-military cooperation in additional areas,” said the American Forces Press Service.
Vigilant Eagle started Aug. 26, with scenarios that presented the United States, Canada and Russia with “a common enemy,” namely terrorist hijackers who take over two airplanes, Joseph Bonnet, director of joint training and exercises for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, told the press service.
“It is one of the biggest single areas where the Russian Federation, U.S. and Canada can truly cooperate,” Bonnet is quoted as saying. “All three countries share a common objective in thwarting, combating and cooperating against terrorism.”
During the exercise, fighter jets, including Canadian CF-18 Hornets and Russian Sukhois, will track, identify, intercept and follow the two hijacked aircraft, and Canada and Russia will conduct air-to-air refueling operations.
The Canadian air force is contributing aircraft for the first time this year during this annual operation, the press service said.
A Russian Tupolev and a commercial aircraft contracted by the U.S. will simulate commercial airplanes seized by terrorists.
The U.S. Air Force’s Airborne Warning and Control System and Russia’s A-50 Beriev will serve as command-and-control platforms.
The first flight from Anchorage, Alaska, on Aug. 27 will travel into Russian airspace. On Aug. 28, a Russian aircraft will take off from Anadyr, Russia, heading into U.S. airspace.
When the airplanes fail to respond to communications, NORAD and the Russian air force will respond.
Both will launch or divert fighter jets to investigate and follow the aircraft. At that point, they will hand off the missions to each other to complete, the American Forces Press Service said.