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News | Jan. 6, 2011

Fighter Jets Under NORAD Control Respond to Unknown Aircraft

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Two U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets, under the control of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, intercepted an unknown civilian helicopter entering North American airspace in the vicinity of Charleston, S.C. today at approximately 9:00 a.m. MST.  The helicopter was not in communication with air traffic control.

The fighter jets, from the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, intercepted the helicopter and, using hand signals, directed the pilot to establish communication. The fighter jets returned to their base once the pilot established communication with local air traffic control.

NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that provides maritime warning, aerospace warning and aerospace defense for Canada and the United States.  The command has three subordinate regional headquarters: the Alaskan NORAD Region at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; the Canadian NORAD Region at Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the Continental NORAD Region at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. The command is poised both tactically and strategically in our nation’s capital to provide a multilayered defense to detect, deter and prevent potential threats flying over the airspace of the United States and Canada.

For more information about NORAD, refer to

 For more information about NORAD intercept procedures, refer to the FAA website at