A little more than a month before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Russia and the US completed the second Vigilant Eagle exercise, designed to improve communication in the event of a cross boarder hijacking. The five-day exercise simulated the hijacking of a US flagged carrier and tested the communication lines between Russian A-50 airborne warning and control aircraft, US E-3 AWACS, and the air operations centers at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski. The two countries also exchanged controllers and liaison officers during the event. “This exercise provides the opportunity for Russia, Canada, and the United States to enhance our coordination and partnership to cooperatively identify, intercept, and follow a suspect aircraft as it proceeds across international boundaries,” said Canadian Air Force Col. Todd Balfe, deputy commander of the Alaskan NORAD Region. “Vigilant Eagle 2011 builds upon the remarkable success of last year’s exercise, when we conducted the first live-flying event between Russia and the United States since the Second World War.” (Alaskan NORAD Region release)
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.