From NATO: From 6 to 10 June 2011, NATO and Russian fighter aircraft will take part in counterterrorism exercise “Vigilant Skies 2011” – a joint demonstration of the NATO-Russia Council Cooperative Airspace Initiative (NRC CAI). This initiative is designed to prevent terrorist attacks which use civilian aircraft, such as the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, by sharing information on movements in NATO airspace and Russian airspace, and by coordinating interceptions of renegade aircraft.
As such, the CAI will improve air safety for the thousands of passengers using international flights between NATO airspace and Russian airspace each day, and the millions of inhabitants on the ground.
This new airspace security system provides a shared NATO-Russia radar picture of air traffic and allows early warning of suspicious air activities through commonly agreed procedures. In situations when an aircraft starts behaving erratically, the air traffic coordination system offers increased information sharing and communication to ensure rapid, joint responses to terrorist threats.
The new system has two coordination centres – in Warsaw and Moscow – and local coordination sites in Kaliningrad, Rostov-on-Don, Murmansk (Russia), Warsaw (Poland), Bodø (Norway), and Ankara (Turkey). CAI is one of the priority areas of the NATO-Russia Council work programme.
The ‘live flying’ phase of the exercise will take place over two days:
- 7 June, a Polish aircraft will play a ‘renegade’ aircraft role, taking off from Krakow. After a flight plan deviation and loss of communication with the aircraft, Polish fighters will intercept the aircraft, before handing the mission on to Russian fighters. Following a struggle in the cockpit, the terrorists will be overpowered, but the plane’s navigation equipment will be damaged and the plane will need to be guided by the Russian fighters back to Poland. The aircraft will land in Malbork, Poland.
- 8 June, over the Black Sea, a flight plan deviation and communication loss will be observed with a Turkish ‘renegade’ aircraft, and coordinated intercepts by Turkish and then Russian fighters will be carried out.
This is the first such counterterrorism exercise held between NATO and the Russian Federation and will be a major milestone for reaching operational capability of the CAI system. (photo: Inorden)