Vigilant Eagle, pitted Canadian and Russian forces and American ground controllers against a theoretical 9/11-style threat. The toughest part of the exercise, said Canadian Forces Andre Viens, was ensuring that Russian leaders and NORAD could arrange a proper hand off of a transnational threat.
NORAD, a binational command at Peterson Air Force Base with U.S. and Canadian leaders has been focused on threats from hijacked airliners since 9/11. The command regularly escorts small aircraft that blunder into restricted flight zones.
“I am pleased to announce we have accomplished all the training objectives,” Viens said as the fifth annual joint exercise with Russia wound up.
His Russian counterpart, Russian Air Force Maj. Gen. Dmitry Gomenkov, agreed.
“We did everything as we planned.”
While the U.S. was a partner in the training, it was hard to tell from the Thursday press conference at its conclusion.
American leaders were nowhere in sight. The fighters involved were CF-18s from Canada and Russian S-27 fighters.
While tensions between the U.S. and Russia are on the rise, the leaders say planning for next year’s exercise with Russia is well underway.