Russian and NATO fighter aircraft started on Tuesday the operational phase of the joint Vigilant Skies 2011 anti-terrorism drills by intercepting a plane hijacked by terrorists over Poland, Russian National Antiterrorism Committee (NAC) spokesman Dmitry Pavlov said.
The drills on June 6-10 are designed to increase Russia-NATO counterterrorism capabilities, bring transparency and predictability to the situation in the air, as well as bolster cooperation and understanding between the participating countries.
This is the first such counterterrorism exercise held between NATO and the Russian Federation, as a part of the NATO-Russia Council Cooperative Airspace Initiative.
“Vigilant Skies 2011 exercises consist of several phases with consecutive participation of Russian and NATO planes from Poland, Turkey and Norway in respective national airspace,” Pavlov said.
The participants are using for the first time a common airspace monitoring system, which provides a shared NATO-Russia radar picture of air traffic and allows early warning of suspicious air activities through commonly agreed procedures.
The exercise will help improve air safety for passengers on international flights between NATO and Russian airspace.
“Our strategic goal is to create an airspace security zone expanding from North Cape [northern Norway] to Dardanelles and Bosporus,” said another NAC official, Yevgeny Potapov, who supervises the drills.
Last year, the Russian Air Force held a similar anti-terror exercise, dubbed Vigilant Eagle, together with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Northern Command.
MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti)