US, Russia Conclude Air Defense Exercise

The United States and Russia have completed their first-ever Vigilant Eagle cooperative air defense exercise, NORAD officials announced Wednesday. Vigilant Eagle took place over the course of three days, with US and Russian military and civil air-traffic-control personnel practicing how they would cooperatively deal with a hijacked airliner flying over the Pacific near Alaska and the Russian Far East. In one drill, Air Force F-22s scrambled to intercept a Gulfstream 4 airplane that was acting as the mock-hijacked airliner. The F-22s then handed over control of the Gulfstream to Russian Su-27s as the Gulfstream neared Russian airspace. In the second drill, the Su-27s escorted the Gulfstream until it neared Alaska and then they relinquished control to the F-22s. Russian Air Force Col. Alexander Vasilyev said terrorism affects both nations “so it is very important that we work together.” (Anchorage report by Capt. Sharbe Clark)