Vigilance in the Skies

NATO and Russia responded cooperatively to mock hijacked airliners along their shared border during Exercise Vigilant Skies 2013, a sign the two sides are building trust in areas of their security relationship. During the four-day event, which concluded on Sept. 26, NATO and Russian personnel practiced detecting, tracking, intercepting, and handing off control of mocked hijacked commercial aircraft traversing NATO’s Polish and Turkish borders with Russia. The exercise included simulated computer activities and two days of live-flight drills with Polish and Turkish F-16s and Russian Sukoi 27s. During the exercise, NATO and Russian air controllers put to the test the NATO-Russia Council’s Cooperative Airspace Initiative Information Exchange System that’s designed to enable data-sharing between the two sides’ air control operations centers so that they could effectively coordinate the control of a hijacked airliner in a real-world situation. The Daily Report was one of the media organizations invited to observe the exercise from NATO’s coordination center in Warsaw, Poland. Click here to continue to the full report.