Russia’s servicemen will join efforts with their U.S. and Canadian colleagues during the Vigilant Eagle 2012 military drills to repel a hypothetical terrorist attack on a passenger airliner, the Russian Eastern Military District’s press service reported on Monday.
“The Vigilant Eagle 2012 exercises will be held on August 27-29. They are aimed at practicing interaction between the Russian armed forces and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in case of a terrorist attack on a passenger airliner,” the district’s spokesman Col. Alexander Gordeyev said.
The drills will be held for the third time. They first were held in 2010.
The exercises involve Russian, U.S. and Canadian armed forces units. Exercise headquarters are stationed in Colorado Springs (Colorado) and Anchorage (Alaska), as well as in the cities of Khabarovsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Russian Far East.
The Russian units will be led by Maj. Gen. Sergei Dronov, the commander of the Eastern Military District’s Third Air Force and Air Defense Command, and NORAD’s units by Joseph Bonnet III, NORAD’s training and exercise director.
“The first group led by Maj. Gen. Dronov will operate as part of the main headquarters in Colorado Springs,” Gordeyev said.
“The second group led by Maj. Gen. Sergei Zhmurin, the head of the Eastern Military District’s Air Defense and Aviation, will take part in the work of the secondary headquarters in Anchorage,” he said.
NORAD is a joint U.S.-Canadian organization providing aerospace warning and defense for the two countries.
According to a NORAD press release, the computer-based exercise will “consist of simulating two international flights: one originating in Alaska and traveling into Russian airspace followed by one originating in Russia and traveling into the U.S. airspace.”
“The basic premise is that a foreign flagged commercial air carrier on an international flight has been seized by terrorists. The aircraft will not respond to communications. The exercise scenario creates a situation that requires both the Russian Air Force and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and follow the aircraft,” NORAD said.
It added that the drills will focus on “the cooperative hand-off of the aircraft between fighter aircraft of the participating nations.”
“These exercises continue to foster the development of cooperation between the Russian Federation Air Force and NORAD in preventing possible threats of air terrorism,” NORAD said.