Nato-Russia Council

Russia-Poland live flying exercise

NATO-Russia Council Vigilant Skies 2013 04The CAI Coordination Centre is based at the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency

Today, the scene is set for the NATO-Russia Council’s Cooperative Airspace Initiative to begin the second part of its vital live flying exercises ‘Vigilant Skies’ in the airspace over Poland and Russia. Vigilant Skies 2013 will be the second time CAI air traffic controllers have been put to the test on their real-time capacity to detect and direct the response to a civilian aircraft hijacked by terrorists in the skies over the NRC. The first live test of the CAI system was successfully completed during Vigilant Skies 2011.

The exercise scenario has already begun. This morning, a civilian aircraft took off from Krakow, Poland with a destination of Oslo. At some point during its journey, the aircraft will begin to play the role of a ‘renegade’ - as if the aircraft had been taken over by terrorists. The aircraft will divert from its flights plan and ground controllers will lose communication with it.

At this point, CAI controllers at Coordination Centers in Warsaw and Russia will be put to the test. Together through the CAI system they will be sharing real time radar data.  Controllers will need to work together to identify the aircraft as a ‘renegade’ and as a result, has become a threat to NRC populations and territories. Once confirmed, the CAI controllers can use standardized voice communication procedures which provideoperational services of national authorities with an early warning about renegade aircrafts.

As Sergei Mirekin, specialist airspace coordinator and monitor at NATO-Russia Coordination Centre, says: “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.”

As a result of CAI’s cooperative work, the military will be alerted to deal with the renegade plane. Polish fighters will be called upon to intercept the aircraft and hand it over to the Russian fighters. At the same time the crew and passengers will be neutralizing the ‘terrorists’ while the planes fly over Kaliningrad. Finally the Russian fighters will escort the aircraft back to Warsaw where the Polish fighters will take over to escort the “renegade” aircraft to land at Malbork.

This exercise will be a key test of the NRC Cooperative Airspace Initiative’s ability to respond to air terrorism through a rapid exchange of information between air traffic controllers. Keep updated on its progress through the NRC website. Live updates and images will be coming in through the day on the NRC’s Twitter and Facebook:

Watch here the video simulating today’s exercise: 

The NATO-Russia Council organizers will hold a press conference this afternoon, once the exercise has been completed, to debrief the initial results of the exercise. In the following days the data and results from the exercise will be backed up and analyzed. As with the successful 2011 live CAI exercise the results from Vigilant Skies 2013 will be used by the NATO-Russia Council to strengthen and further develop the CAI system. NATO-Russia Council live exercises demonstrate the ability to coordinate practical and strong joint responses to a common security challenge – the threat of terrorism. The Cooperative Airspace Initiative remains a vivid example of how the NATO-Russia Council is contributing to more security for populations across NRC nations.