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Press Releases

Press Release | Aug. 23, 2013

NORAD and Russian Federation Air Force to participate in joint military exercise VIGILANT EAGLE 13

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Russian Federation Air Force will conduct their third cooperative live-fly air defense exercise from August 26-30, 2013 over the Bering Sea.

The exercise, named VIGILANT EAGLE, began as a jointly pursued initiative between the United States and Russia to improve cooperation and response to a hijacking scenario involving commercial aircraft and involves Russian Federation Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and U.S. military personnel and aircraft operating in Russia and the United States.

This year’s exercise will consist of aircraft simulating two international flights: one originating in Alaska and traveling into Russian airspace, followed by one originating in Russia and traveling into U.S. airspace.

In the exercise scenario, a foreign flagged commercial air carrier on an international flight has been seized by terrorists and is not responding to communications.  This situation will require both the RFAF and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and follow the commercial carrier.  The exercise will focus on the cooperative hand-off of the aircraft across boundaries by the participating nations.

The VIGILANT EAGLE exercise series has been conducted four times since its inception. It started in 2008 with a computer simulated exercise, followed by the first live-fly exercise in August 2010, which included interceptors, tankers and AWACS aircraft from both sides.  This event marked a significant milestone in our continued cooperative efforts to keep our international boundaries safe.  It was followed by another successful live-fly in 2011.  In 2012, an additional computer simulated exercise was conducted at the request of the RFAF.

These exercises continue to foster the improved cooperation between the RFAF and NORAD in their ability to respond quickly to threats of air terrorism. Working side-by-side allows further opportunities for Russia, Canada and the U.S. to enhance their international partnership and to cooperatively detect, track, identify, intercept, and follow a simulated hijacked aircraft as it proceeds across international boundaries.