By Major Andrew Scott, Continental U.S. NORAD Region Public Affairs
The North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted air defense exercise, Amalgam Dart 20-4, at McGhee Tyson Airport near Knoxville, Tennessee 18-22 November.
To test responses, systems and equipment, NORAD routinely conducts exercises with a variety of scenarios, including airspace restriction violations, hijackings and responding to unknown aircraft. NORAD carefully plans and closely controls all exercises.
Amalgam Dart 20-4 was designed to test NORAD’s ability to deploy its Integrated Air Defense System and execute its aerospace warning and aerospace control missions at a non-designated Aerospace Control Alert facility.
“This exercise was definitely a success because we proved NORAD’s ability to rapidly establish air defense capability at a location that doesn’t typically support those mission sets,” said Steven Armstrong, NORAD’s Strategic Engagement chief. “This Amalgam Dart exercise exemplifies what NORAD does best, securing the skies over North America.”
Participants included NORAD Baron B55 aircraft, Cessna 182 aircraft and aircrews; F-16 Viper aircraft and aircrews from the District of Columbia Air National Guard’s 113th Wing; integrated air defense and command control systems and personnel from the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command; and communication equipment and personnel from Georgia Air National Guard’s 283rd Combat Communications Squadron.
“Anytime you put an Integrated Air Defense System together it requires the joint team,” said Army Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Sheriff, 263rd AAMDC commander. “This Amalgam Dart exercise presented us the perfect opportunity to revalidate our tactics, techniques, and procedures for short or no notice air defense events in the continental homeland, and it’s been a great success.”
The training scenarios replicated airborne intercepts of aircraft that flew into airspace that the Federal Aviation Administration has established as “temporary flight restricted airspace.” Temporary Flight Restrictions, or TFRs, are established by the FAA and enforced by NORAD during high-visibility national events such as political national conventions, the Super Bowl, and presidential travel. The FAA posts TFR information in affected areas as notice to airmen to warn general aviation pilots prior to flight about the temporarily-prohibited airspace on their website at www.tfr.faa.gov.
“This exercise has been a great opportunity for the pilots to exercise the alert mission at a remote base with unfamiliar airspace while utilizing alternate communication procedures,” said Lt. Col. Michael Kimack, 113th Wing Aerospace Control Alert director of operations.
The defense of North America is NORAD’s top priority. NORAD is on alert around the clock, every day. For more than 60 years, NORAD aircraft have identified and intercepted potential air threats to North America in the execution of the command’s aerospace warning and aerospace control missions.
Operation NOBLE EAGLE applies to all air sovereignty and air defense missions in North America. NORAD is a bi-national command focused on the defense of both U.S. and Canada. NORAD’s response to potential aerospace threats does not distinguish between the two nations and draws on forces from both countries.
“Going forward NORAD will be able to use what we’ve learned here to deploy Integrated Air Defense Systems wherever the nation needs us,” said Brig. Gen. Kenneth Ekman, First Air Force (Air Forces Northern) vice commander. “That could include places in the continental United States, but also as we work with our Canadian partners within the NORAD context, we could deploy something like this to Canada. We’re going to be able to build on this to provide greater defensive capability at the point of need wherever either nation calls for it.”
McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base is home to the 134th Air Refueling Wing and host wing for this Amalgam Dart exercise. The 134th ARW supports Rapid Global Mobility and Sustainment by providing world class personnel, vital Air Refueling and Airlift capabilities for contingency response and sustained combat operations.