US, Canada plan joint exercise with Russian Air Force
US and Russian fighter jets will take part in a joint exercise this month for the first time, shadowing a mock hijacked airliner over the United States, military officials said Monday.
The training exercise, dubbed "Vigilant Eagle," will involve fighters, airborne warning aircraft and refueling planes from both countries and US, Russian and Canadian officers at command centers, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said in a statement.
The premise for the exercise will feature a mock American commercial airliner that "has been taken over by terrorists," it said.
The exercises will include two mock international flights, "one originating in Alaska and traveling to the Far East followed by one originating in the Far East and traveling to Alaska."
The exercise will require the Russian Air Force and the joint US-Canadian NORAD command to launch or divert fighter planes to approach the hijacked airliner.
The fighter pilots will be practicing how to detect and intercept an aircraft and how to carry out a "cooperative hand-off" as they track the airliner across international borders, NORAD said.
"This combined exercise moves us forward in the development of cooperation between the Russian Federation Air Force and NORAD in preventing possible threats of air terrorism," the statement said.
The exercise, the product of a military cooperation agreement signed by the Russia and the United States, comes amid improving US-Russian relations and after leaders from both countries agreed a major arms control deal.
© 2010 AFP