ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – The Canadian and Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command regions launched a combined team of fighters, tankers and AWACS command and control aircraft this week to practice intercepting unidentified aircraft.
The training is part of a NORAD exercise.
"Often referred to as a Long Range Detection Team, this very specialized grouping of ... aircraft is routinely assembled and used to find and track unidentified aircraft that could enter North American airspace,” said Col. David Timm, 611th Air Operations Group commander.
Although the Alaskan and Canadian NORAD Regions routinely train to conduct such missions, this is the first time American F-15s and Canadian CF-18s flew as part of the same LRDT. During the exercise, aircraft took off from both regions, rendezvoused with each other at a designated location, formed a single bi-national intercept team and then practiced a combined intercept on simulated unidentified aircraft.
An unidentified aircraft is defined as any aircraft approaching American or Canadian airspace that is not on an international flight plan or has, without air traffic control authorization, deviated from its original flight plan. Any aircraft considered unidentified is investigated, Timm said.
In addition to training aircrews in bi-national combined intercepts, the exercise provided regional command centers with an opportunity to effectively command and control combined missions.
“Training with our U.S. partners enables us to conduct effective operations in the NORAD mission,” said Maj.-Gen. Charlie Bouchard, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region headquarters. “As a bi-national command, we train together often to ensure the defense of North America.”
NORAD maintains forces throughout North America in support of its bi-national mission of providing aerospace defense, warning and control for North America. Personnel in the Alaskan and Canadian NORAD Regions are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, protecting the air sovereignty of North America.