The AP via ABC News has a story of military cooperation this evening with the combined efforts of Russian and NORAD forces in a training exercise known as Vigilant Eagle. The exercise is a familiar one, and has been taken place five times since 2003.
Conducted over parts of Alaska and eastern Russia, a team consisting of the Russian Federation Air Force, the Canadian Air Force operating out of NORAD facilities in Anchorage, Alaska and Colorado Springs were present to monitor the joint operation.
Vigilant Eagle involves a sort of ‘switcheroo’: Russian observers were sitting at the NORAD facilities in the United States, while NORAD observers were sent to Khabarovsk to see things from the Russian side.
The operation is a hypothetical wargame: A small 757 passenger jet gets “hijacked” on its way out of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Tuesday, and a pair of Canadian CF-18 Hornets representing NORAD intercept the plane over the western coast. The plane is handed off at the international border to three Russian SU-27 jets. The Russian jets escort the plane to a Russian Air Force base in Anadyr. The exercise was repeated the following day when the plane leaves and returns to Anchorage under Canadian escort.
The director of Operations for NORAD, Canadian Major Gen. André Viens, was quoted by the AP as saying that the exercises this week represented the first time that Russian and North American militaries have worked together since the strained relations over Edward Snowden’s leaking, then the Syria crises, and finally over the issue of gay rights.
Viens felt that the ongoing cooperation with the Russian military was without incident, and his counterpart, Gen. Major Dmitry Gomenkov, said that he “saw no problems” through a translator, and both generals have called the exercise a success with planning for next year’s exercise to begin in November.