30 Aug '13, 12pm
Photo gallery: Russian, NORAD forces unite for hijacking exercise: Flying at 34,000 feet over the Be... #airforce
OVER ALASKA — Flying at 34,000 feet over the Bering Strait, the Russian pilots had a singular focus: making sure they smoothly received the hand-off of a hijacked jetliner from their U.S.-Canadian counterparts. Up here, there were no thoughts about strained Russia-U.S. relations. Those were for another day, and for high-level officials. This training exercise was to make sure Russia and NORAD forces could find, track and escort a hijacked aircraft over international borders. NORADs director of operations, Canadian Major Gen. André Vien, said there were never any discussions about canceling the exercise, known as Vigilant Eagle. Its been held five times since 2003. But the exercises on Tuesday and Wednesday were the first since U.S.-Russian relations became strained because of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, Syria, human rights and other issues. The coo...