By Michael Kucharek
NORAD and U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs
In the exercise scenario, a foreign flagged commercial air carrier
on an international flight was seized by terrorists and did not respond to
communications. Both RFAF and NORAD launched or diverted fighter aircraft to
investigate and follow the commercial carrier. The exercise also focused on a visual
hand-off of the aircraft within the same airspace by the participating nations.
Major General André Viens,
NORAD Director of Operations, said during a joint press conference at the NORAD
and U.S. Northern Command headquarters here Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, that the
exercise was “successful in achieving all established exercise objectives.” He
also dubbed the positive hand-off as “unprecedented, and the result of a great
deal of planning and coordination. We
have never done this in the past and we are extremely proud that it went off
without a hitch.”
Viens also alluded to the complexity of such a multi-country
exercise and what was achieved during VE13.
the Vigilant Eagle exercise series we have developed and refined tactics,
techniques and procedures to effectively notify, coordinate and conduct
positive handoff of a terrorist hijacked aircraft flying between Russian,
Canadian and American airspace,” said Viens.
Speaking through an interpreter, Viens’ counterpart from the
Russian Federation Air Force, Russian General Major Dmitry Viktorovich
Gomenkov, Commander, Aerospace Defense Brigade,
indicated that two main objectives were achieved during VE13.
“Even though the headquarters are located thousands of kilometers
away (from each other),” said Gomenkov. “All tasks were performed successfully.” He cited command and control and the actions
of the pilots from multiple countries as key areas that led to the successful
execution of the live-fly phase.
Both men expressed with confidence that the Vigilant Eagle series
of exercises will continue, saying the experiences from previous command post
and live-fly exercises will help build on future cooperative efforts between
the three countries.
“I agree all activities performed against terrorists are very
important,” said Gomenkov, again speaking through an interpreter. “I hope future planning conferences for Vigilant Eagle 14
make the exercise more interesting and complicated.”
Vigilant Eagle 2013 began as a jointly pursued initiative between
the United States and Russia to improve cooperation and response to a hijacking
scenario involving commercial aircraft.
This year’s scenario involved personnel and aircraft from Russian, Canadian
and U.S. operating in Russia and the United States.
is a United States and Canada bi-national organization charged with the
missions of aerospace warning and control for North America. Aerospace warning
includes the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America
whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support
arrangements with other commands.
control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of
Canada and the United States. The renewal of the NORAD Agreement in May 2006
added a maritime warning mission, which entails a shared awareness and
understanding of the activities conducted in U.S. and Canadian maritime
approaches, maritime areas and internal waterways.