March 11, 3:29
MOSCOW, August 27 (Itar-Tass) – A joint Russian-U.S.-Canadian antiterrorist exercise dubbed Vigilant Eagle 2012 begins in Russia’s Far East and in Alaska Monday, August 27, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a press release.
“In line with a working plan for cooperation between the Russian Armed Forces and the North American Aerospace Defense Command /NORAD/ are holding the Vigilant Eagle 2012 international exercise,” the report said.
“The objective of the maneuvers that will continue through to August 29 is to simulate interaction in case of hijacking of passenger airliners by terrorists,” it said.
“The Russian Armed Forces have committed units of the Eastern Military District to the exercise, the command points of which will be located in the cities of Khabarovsk, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and in U.S. cities.”
“The First Group of Russian military under the command of Major General Sergei Dronov will be assigned to the main headquarters of the exercise in Colorado Springs, Colorado,” the press release said.
“The Second Group under the command of Major General Sergei Zhmurin will take part in the operations of the support headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska.”
“The antiterrorist maneuvers involving units of the Canadian Armed Forces are held for the third time,” the Defense Ministry said. “Major General Sergei Dronov has been placed in command on the Russian side and Joseph Bonnet III, the NORAD training and exercise director, is commanding the U.S. and Canadian units.”
A NORAD press release provided some details on the joint exercise.
“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,” it said.
“The basic premise is that a foreign flagged commercial air carrier on an international flight has been seized by terrorists,” the press release indicated. “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.”
“The exercise will focus on the cooperative hand-off of the aircraft between fighter aircraft of the participating nations,” the press release went on. “These exercises continue to foster the development of cooperation between the Russian Federation Air Force and NORAD in preventing possible threats of air terrorism.”
Russian defense officials recall in this connection that the first exercise in the Vigilant Eagle series was held in 2010 in the regions of the Russian Far East and in Alaska and the second exercise was held the next year.
They included, among other things, a simulation of efforts to search, track down and coerce two passenger jets seized by terrorists to land. The simulation involved fighter aircraft.