- The US military is conducting a large-scale exercise to test its ability to fend off enemy bomber aircraft threatening the homeland.
- Four US combatant commands and NORAD are coming together for the first time for this exercise, during which fighters supported by aerial refuelling tankers will protect US airspace from an approaching bomber.
- “The high-end training we are conducting enables integration between strategic-level organisations who all play a significant role in the most important mission for our nation – defending our homeland,” Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of NORTHCOM and NORAD, said in a statement Friday.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The US military is currently putting its ability to protect the homeland from enemy aircraft to the test in a major, first-of-its-kind exercise in the Atlantic from May 28 to May 31,US Northern Command announced Friday.
On offence, a US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) supersonic B-1B Lancer long-range strategic bomber will simulate an adversary bomber aircraft trying to penetrate US airspace, a NORTHCOM spokesman explained.
Playing defence, Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s and US Air Force F-15s under the bilateral Northern Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and US Navy F/A-18s from the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group under US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) will fend off the approaching bomber.
NORAD has significant experience defending North American airspace, as its fighter jets are routinely called to intercept Russian bombers, fighters, and surveillance aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defence Identification Zone, activities which have become more frequent in recent years.
The fighters participating in the exercise will be supported by KC-135 Stratotankers from US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM). The alert tankers are, like NORAD fighters, always on standby to respond to a potential threat.
US Space Command (SPACECOM) will be providing GPS and communications support throughout the training exercise.
The B-1B bomber participating in this large-scale exercise is returning to the US from one of several recent bomber operations in Europe, and the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and its escort ships have been stuck at sea due to concerns over the coronavirus.
With these strategic assets already in place, military leaders saw this as an opportunity to conduct a joint exercise aimed at strengthening the joint force and increasing interoperability, a NORTHCOM spokesman said.
The ongoing exercise marks the first time four US combatant commands and NORAD have come together to conduct homeland defence operations.
“Leading complex multi-combatant command operations across multiple domains demonstrates our readiness to defend our homeland regardless of COVID-19,” Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the NORTHCOM and NORAD commander, said Friday.
“The high-end training we are conducting enables integration between strategic-level organisations who all play a significant role in the most important mission for our nation – defending our homeland,” he added.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.