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News | Oct. 19, 2016

Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD 17 Takes off in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

By Captain Mathew Strong 4 Wing Cold Lake, Canadian Armed Forces

Aircraft, personnel and equipment from the Canadian Armed Forces and the United States Air National Guard have deployed to Yellowknife, N.W.T. as part of Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD 17 from October 17 to 21, 2016.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) led, bi-national exercise aims to deploy and conduct air sovereignty operations in the far north and the high Arctic, thus demonstrating a combined ability to detect, identify and meet possible threats in some of the most remote regions in the world. 

“This exercise is an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate our shared bi-national, NORAD role,” said Major Tristan McKee, the Canadian Detachment Commander in Yellowknife for Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD 17.

“This is one of a series of times, through progressively more complicated exercises over the past few years, where aircraft and personnel from both Canada and the United States can come together to operate and support each other successfully at multiple forward operating locations. Practicing these combined operations is a key goal of Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD 17.”

Deployed to Yellowknife in support of this exercise are F-15 Eagles and personnel from the 142nd Fighter Wing of the United States Air National Guard, based out of Portland, Oregon. Alongside them are personnel and equipment from a variety of Royal Canadian Air Force locations, primarily from 4 Wing Cold Lake.

This exercise provides a forum for NORAD to practice its ability to deploy to a variety of locations across vast distances, yet still support and achieve a complex set of missions and objectives.

Canadian and American military personnel are deployed to a number of other locations in Canada, such as 5 Wing Goose Bay, Inuvik, N.W.T., and Canadian Forces Station Alert, Nunavut. NORAD forces are commanded by Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters in Winnipeg, Man. and coordinated through the Canadian Air Defence Sector at 22 Wing North Bay, Ont.

Deployed assets across the entire exercise include: CF-18 Hornet, CH-149 Cormorant, CC-130H Hercules, F-15 Eagle, F-22 Raptor, E-3 Sentry, KC-135 (USAF) Stratotankers and hundreds of necessary maintenance and support personnel required for sustained flying operations. The participants can also count on the Canadian Army who deployed personnel to the various exercise locations to provide security support.

NORAD is a bi-national command formed by a partnership between Canada and the United States that provides aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in defence of North America.