The people keeping the NRC safe from air terrorism
Boris Shestakov on duty at the Moscow Coordination Center
The Cooperative Airspace Initiative is a NATO-Russia Council joint response to the threat of terrorism in our shared airspace. We spoke to the operators of this NRC system in Poland, Russia and Norway to find out what they do and how they work together to protect against the threat of terrorism in our skies. Leading up to Vigilant Skies 2013, a live exercise that takes place between the 23-27th of September, they explained to us how the exercise will test the system’s capabilities and procedures.
During the live exercise Polish, Russian and Turkish fighter jets will respond to a simulated renegade aircraft coordinated by the NATO-Russia Council Cooperative Airspace Initiative Information Exchange System.
NRC.info: How are the CAI centres organised and how will they be taking part in Vigilant Skies 2013?
Major Maciej Moroń Polish Coordination Centre Supervisor:
“The CAI system consists of two Coordination Centres one in Poland and one Russia, and 6 Local Coordination Units 3 in Russia and 3 in, Norway, Poland and Turkey.
Vigilant Skies 2013 exercise will be a live event in two of the three geographical information exchange areas of the CAI system, requiring the coordination of all the participating NATO and the RUS Area Control Centres, and the corresponding Local Coordination Units. The interaction between the NATO Coordination Centre and the NATO Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) may also be exercised, as well as the interaction of the NATO Local Coordination Units with relevant National Military or National Governmental Agencies, as decided nationally.
The Cooperative Airspace Initiative centres participating in Vigilant Skies 2013 exercise are the Warsaw NATO Coordination Centre, Warsaw Local Coordination Unit and Ankara Local Coordination Unit, and the Russian Federation Coordination Centre Moscow, and Local Coordination Units in Kaliningrad and Rostov on Don.
Vigilant Skies 2013 will be preceded by a simulated dry run of the live scenarios, including also the simulated scenario between Norway and Russian Federation. The Vigilant Skies simulation exercise can be seen as a final rehearsal of the live exercise, which will checkout the interaction between the Vigilant Skies 2013 participants and the event management participants.”
NRC.info: Maciej, what is your role in the CAI system?
“I manage and coordinate the overall information exchange between the Coordination Centres when responding to air situations, and assess the overall CAI air picture during routine and contingency situations. I also ensure that Local Coordination Units are provided with the CAI air information they require to prepare for, and respond to, air terrorism or other potential threats. The CAI system helps identify terrorist threats by mutual exchange of information increasing the level of airspace security.”
NRC.info: What technology are you using for CAI and how does it enable cooperation?
“CAI IES (Cooperative Airspace Initiative Information Exchange System) provides automated surveillance and a flight plan exchange processes between CAI operational centres and displays information from the work stations of designated Coordination Centres and Local Coordination Unit staff.
We use Civil Military Air Traffic Management Co-ordination Tool, it is a EUROCONTROL software that combines and links several civilian surveillance and military sensor data sources to provide a Recognised Air Picture.”
NRC.info: Tell us a little bit about what you do at the Control Centre.
Gunnar Jørgensen Norwegian Flight Data Specialist
Gunnar Jørgensen Norwegian Flight Data Specialist at Bodø Area Control Center:
“We monitor and operate the Local Coordination Unit station 24hrs a day. The Local Coordination Unit workstation contains VoIP telephone that connects us directly with the other members of the CAI network, and a radar screen presenting live tracks of flying objects that can be highlighted and transferred with relevant information to our counterparts.”
NRC.info: How does the Cooperative Airspace Initiative work?
“The CAI system enables a joint response by sharing real time radar data and standardized voice communication procedures between the CAI member Nations.
The main objective of the system is to alert and inform other CAI members on renegade situations as accurately and as soon as possible, so the members can take actions related to this information. It is of great importance to react quickly, this enables CAI member states to take the right countermeasures.”
NRC.info: What was the result of previous live exercises in 2011?
“The Vigilant Skies exercises 2011 showed that CAI is a successful project when it comes to share time-critical radar and voice information between nations when renegade situations occur. The system is based on cooperation and trust building between NATO partners and Russia and the potential for CAI is bright, the system is ready to be shared by NATO Partners with common borders to Russia and it is a relatively low cost project.”
Sergei Mirekin specialist airspace coordinator at his CAI workstation in Moscow
NRC.info: How important is the role the CAI operators play?
Sergei Mirekin specialist airspace coordinator and monitor at NATO-Russia Coordination Centre:
“I believe that the actions of operators can broaden the potential of the CAI Information Exchange System. The CAI IES makes it possible to identify aircraft with a potential risk of terrorist use and to provide the parties and the operational services of national authorities with an early warning about these aircraft.
Given the high speed of aircraft, it is important to respond rapidly to a renegade or other threatening situation. The faster the authorities of cooperating states receive information on the renegade and other threatening aircraft, the more time they will have to decide how to deal with it. The CAI IES enables cooperating states to react jointly to terrorist threats by rapidly exchanging information on the Renegade and Other Threatening Aircraft situations.”
NRC.info: What happens when a Renegade or Other Threatening Aircraft (ROTA) is detected?
Boris Shestakov, Russian specialist in monitoring the use of airspace and coordination of the NATO-Russia Coordination Centre.
“When the ATC agencies discover that an aircraft is in violation of regulations, the information is sent to the Local Coordination Unit duty specialist who informs the Coordination Centre duty specialist. The Coordination Centre Duty Team Leader assesses the situation, takes a decision, designates a violation category, and tasks the duty specialist.
The Coordination Centre Duty Team Leader reports immediately to the shift manager of the Single Air Traffic Control System (SATCS) Main Centre, cooperating agencies and the Head of the Russian Federation Coordination Centre. At the same time, the duty specialist forwards the information to the NATO Coordination Centre. The shift manager of the SATCS Main Centre immediately informs the national security agencies of the situation. The system makes it possible for the participating countries to react jointly thanks to coordinated detection, early warning and reciprocal exchange of information on decisions and actions in respect of renegade aircraft, and to work together on the common task of combating terrorism.”