NATO and Russian fighter jets escort an aircraft during a Vigilant Skies exercise (File photo)© Photo NATO-Russia Council
MOSCOW, September 27 (RIA Novosti) – NATO and Russia have successfully completed a live three-day joint exercise to test their capacity to counter terrorist threats in the skies over NATO and Russian territory.
The exercise, dubbed Vigilant Skies-2013, involved fighter aircraft from Turkish, Polish and Russian air forces as well as air traffic controllers from the NATO-Russia Council Cooperative Airspace Initiative (NRC CAI).
“This year’s scenario involved two separate air terrorism incidents involving the hijacking of civilian aircraft in Turkish, Russian and Polish airspace by terrorists on board the planes,” NATO said in a statement on its website on Thursday.
“All incidents were successfully resolved after NATO and Russian air traffic controllers coordinated Allied and Russian military authorities to scramble fighter jets to escort the aircraft to safe landings,” the statement said.
The CAI was launched at the first NATO-Russia Council summit in Rome in May 2002, and the CAI network was declared operational in December 2011 following the successful completion of the first Vigilant Skies drills earlier that year.
According to NATO, the aim of the CAI is “to operate and further develop a capability for reciprocal air traffic information exchange and coordination of air security incidents which pose a terrorist threat.”
The CAI network currently consists of four units in NATO nations and four units in Russia. The exchange of air traffic information is conducted through CAI coordination centers located in Warsaw and Moscow.
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