Defense

August 26, 2013

Vigilant Eagle continues closer U.S.-Russian cooperation

Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Beginning Aug. 27, fighter jets from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Russian air force will scramble to track and intercept “hijacked” aircraft during an air defense exercise viewed as a steppingstone toward closer military-to-military cooperation in additional areas.

Vigilant Eagle 13 kicked off Aug. 26, with scenarios that present the United States, Canada and Russia with a common enemy: terrorist hijackers, Joseph Bonnet, director of joint training and exercises for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, said during a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service.
The exercise is the fifth in a series, based on a 2003 agreement between the sitting U.S. and Russian presidents to strengthen the two militaries’ relationship and their ability to work together. The threat of international hijackers served as a foundation to help advance that effort, resulting in an exercise program that addresses a recognized threat, Bonnet explained.

Vigilant Eagle began in 2008 as a command post exercise. At Russia’s request, it now alternates between CPXs that test out principles and procedures in a computer-based setting and “live-fly” exercises that apply those principles and procedures the following year.

This year’s exercise is the third in the series to incorporate actual aircraft, Bonnet reported. A Russian Tupolev and a commercial aircraft contracted by the United States will simulate commercial airliners seized by terrorists. The U.S. Air Force’s Airborne Warning and Control System and Russia’s A-50 Beriev will serve as command-and-control platforms.

Live fighter jets – Canadian CF-18 Hornets and Russian Sukhois – will track, identify, intercept and follow the hijacked aircraft, and both Canada and Russia will conduct air-to-air refueling operations. The Canadian air force has been integral to past Vigilant Eagle exercises, but is contributing aircraft for the first time this year, Bonnet said.

In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration and its Russian equivalent are participating.

The scenario involves two “hijacked” commercial aircraft that challenge participants on the ground and in the sky to provide a coordinated response, Bonnet explained. The first flight, to originate tomorrow from Anchorage, Alaska, will travel into Russian airspace. The following day, a Russian aircraft will take off from Anadyr, Russia, toward U.S. airspace.

When the aircraft fail to respond to communications, NORAD, the U.S.-Canada command that safeguards U.S. skies under Operation Noble Eagle, and the Russian air force will move into action. Both will launch or divert fighter jets to investigate and follow the suspect aircraft headed toward each other’s airspace. At that point, they will hand off the missions to each other to complete.

Working together in Anchorage and Anadyr and at the NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., participants will cooperate in escort and handoff procedures using two distinct communications, command-and-control and air traffic control systems, Bonnet said.

Vigilant Eagle has become more ambitious and valuable with each iteration, Bonnet said, noting that this year’s exercise will be no different.

“This is the culmination of everything that has gone on in previous exercises, and we expect it to continue to mature,” he said. “Like us, the Russian Federation air force is eager to expand the scope and complexity of the exercise, and to look into other areas,” such as related search-and-rescue and airfield operations.

Bonnet called continuation of Vigilant Eagle, particularly at a time when budget costs have caused the cancellation of many other exercises, a success in itself. With fewer than 100 people directly involved from the United States, Vigilant Eagle offers tremendous “bang for the buck,” he said.

“This is a small, relatively inexpensive exercise with a huge payoff,” he said. “It doesn’t cost any of the countries a lot of money, but it is building things that have immediate value for all of them. When you have procedures and a means of communicating information between both sides, that has a lot of value.”

Another big success, Bonnet said, is that the exercise has transcended leadership changes both in the United States and in Russia, as well as recent political tensions between them.

Both countries recognize the importance of continued cooperation to keep their international borders safe, he said.

“It is one of the biggest single areas where the Russian Federation, U.S. and Canada can truly cooperate,” he said. “All three countries share a common objective in thwarting, combating and cooperating against terrorism.”

As their militaries work together to confront terrorist hijackers, Bonnet said, they are laying the foundation for future cooperation in other areas.

“What we are trying to do is continually build and expand the exercise and use this as a basis for moving the relationship forward,” he said. “That, to me, is the biggest value of Vigilant Eagle.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 19, 2014

News: McKeon on broader military authorization: Anything can ‘fail or pass’ - Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said if Congress returns after the midterm elections to weigh a broader military authorization for the battle against Islamic State, it might not pass. Defense contractor gets 7 years for giving secrets...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,203 As of Sept. 16, 2014, at least 2,203 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,823 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 

Pratt & Whitney, U.S. Air Force complete qualification for F135 engine testing

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. , together with its U.S. Air Force partner at the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., celebrated another significant milestone qualification for F135 engine testing at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. OC-ALC which in addition to engine testing is also qualified to perform...
 

 
Navy photograph

Triton has first cross-country flight from Palmdale

Northrop Grumman photograph The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System takes off from Northrop Grummanís Palmdale, Calif., facility Sept. 17 for its first cross-country flight to Naval Air Station Patuxent, River, Md. PALMDALE,...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

AFRL commander describes Air Force’s technology vision

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello takes a question from an audience member after discussing Air Force Research Laboratory breakthrough technologies during the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>