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Russia, US-Canadian NORAD wrap up 'Vigilant Eagle'


Two Russian SU-27 fighters intercept Fencing 1220, the target of interest for Exercise VIGILANT EAGLE on Aug. 8. Photo: NORAD.

MOSCOW (PTI): Russian Air Force Thursday completed its first-ever joint drill with Cold War era rival -- North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) -- aimed at combating terrorism.

The exercise under the codename Vigilant Eagle, was carried out between August 6-11 under a cooperative military agreement between Russia and the US, which tasks NORAD, the bi-national US and Canadian command, and the Russian Air Force to conduct a live-flying exercise for up to five days, RIA Novosti reported.

It involved Russian, Canadian and US Air Force personnel operating from command centres at the Elmendorf airbase in Alaska and Khabarovsk in Russia.

The US AWACS E-3B and Russian A-50 airborne warning and control aircraft, Russian MiG-31 and Su-27 fighters and US F-22 interceptors assisted by along with refuelling aircraft from both countries took part in the joint drill.

The scenario of the drill, put together by NORAD and the US Northern Command, created a situation requiring both the Russian Air Force and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and shadow a US flagged Gulfstream 4 business jet on an international flight hijacked by terrorists.

"The personnel exhibited a high degree of professionalism in coordinating air missions and exchanging information," a senior Russian Air Force official was quoted as saying by the agency.

"These drills allow us to make a step forward in the Russian-NORAD cooperation on countering potential threats of aircraft hijacking," the official said.

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