NORAD To Launch US, Russian Joint 'Hijacked Airliner' Exercise Amid Rising Tensions

308248Official DoD PhotoU.S. F-22 Raptors seen from outside the window of a mock hi-jacked airliner during Exercise Vigilant Eagle in 2011. The joint exercise between U.S. and Russian air forces is set to kick off again this year, despite heightened political tensions between the two nations.

Amid heightened political tensions between the U.S. and Russia over a variety of issues, U.S., Canadian, and Russian air forces at least will seek some cooperation next week with a joint exercise over the Bering Sea.
The exercise, dubbed Vigilant Eagle, started as an attempt to train to respond to a hijacked airliner that required both Russian and North American intervention.

It will pair troops and technology from the joint U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defence Command and Russian Federation Air Force and will last from Aug. 26-30.

This year’s drill will feature two scenarios involving international flights, according to a release from NORAD. One flight will originate in Alaska and travel into Russian airspace, while the other will originate in Russia and travel into U.S. airspace.

Relations are presently strained between Washington and the Kremlin after Russia granted conditional asylum to fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden. In response, President Obama canceled a summit scheduled for next month between the two nations. The international response to the unrest in Syria has also been a point of contention between Washington and Moscow.

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