Nato-Russia Council

Nations discuss Cooperative Airspace Initiative progress


Scenes from the 2011 Cooperative Airspace Initiative exercise

On 19 April NATO-Russia Council nations participating in the Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI) met in Brussels to chart progress made on the system in recent months as well as prepare for the Live Exercise that will put CAI to the test in September later this year.

A key part of the NRC’s cooperative work on countering terrorism, CAI is an air traffic control system which aims to detect and deal with the threat of terrorists hijacking civilian aircrafts. Through CAI, NRC nations share relevant radar information which improves dramatically nations’ forewarning about suspect aircraft. Once a problem has been identified, CAI nations have also agreed procedures to work together to deal with the threat.

The three NRC regions covered by CAI are the geographic spaces between Norway and Russia, Poland and Russia, and between Turkey and Russia. CAI’s two central coordination centres are located in Moscow and Warsaw. In addition, each of the three zones has a pair of local coordination centres: Bodø and Murmansk, Kaliningrad and Warsaw, and Ankara and Rostov-on-Don. Each of the pairs is connected by communications equipment which facilitates voice to voice communication as well as the potential to share radar data on air traffic.

The September 2013 Live Exercise ‘Vigilant Skies’ 2013 will be another key step in validating CAI’s ability as an NRC system to deal with terrorist threats from the sky. Plans are well underway for the event, which will include live flying exercises involving military aircraft sent to deal with the rogue civilian plane.

Read more on CAI’s development as a NRC capability, or watch a video on CAI’s last exercise in 2011.