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Russian planes to the rescue of the Polish and Turkish (exercise)

A Russian Sukhoi aircraft (credit: Polish Ministry of Defence)

(BRUSSELS2) A Russian plane, together with Polish or Turkish planes, preventing a terrorist attack, is the theme of an unusual air exercise, which first took place in the north of Poland and continues today in above the Black Sea. Unusual… because it brings together, for the first time, the Russian air force and the NATO air force, in an exercise – called Vigilant Skies 2011 - inspired by the attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001. In this case, the use of a civilian aircraft for terrorist purposes. This exercise is taking place – it is not entirely by chance in the middle of a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers, in Brussels, which on its agenda is a NATO-Russia meeting and a discussion on the anti- missiles.

An exercise inspired by the 2001 attacks

Thus, according to the established scenario, a Polish plane took off yesterday (Tuesday) from Krakow airport before being hijacked. After a fight in the cockpit, the kidnappers were overpowered. Polish F-16 fighter jets took off, quickly, to intercept the “Renegat” plane (played by a military C-295), before handing over to Russian planes, entering Russian airspace . As the aircraft's air navigation system was damaged, the Sukhoi Su-27s then returned the plane to Malbork airport in Poland.

Today (Wednesday) a second part of the exercise takes place, this time over the Black Sea. This time, air traffic controllers detected a suspicious Turkish airliner; he deviated from his flight plan and a communications interruption was reported. A coordinated interception is then triggered between Turkish fighter planes, relayed by their Russian counterparts.

A new NATO-Russia cooperation system

This exercise aims to test, on a full-scale basis, the new airspace cooperation system (CAI) set up between Russia and NATO countries. This new system provides "a common radar image of air traffic and makes it possible to give early warning in the event of suspicious air activities, following jointly approved procedures", especially when an aircraft begins to behave "unusually". unpredictable manner. With the key to sharing information on air movements and coordinating interceptions of suspicious aircraft, the new system includes two coordination centers (Warsaw, Moscow) and local coordination stations in Kaliningrad, Rostov on Don, Murmansk (Russia). ), Warsaw (Poland), Bodø (Norway) and Ankara (Turkey).

NB: this is not, however, the first time that the Russians have participated in a NATO exercise. Russia regularly participates in exercises, particularly naval ones, such as currently off the coast of Spain in the exercise “Bold Monach 2011“, which aims to test international coordination for the rescue of a submarine crew. Russia had already participated in the exercise “Bold Monarch 2008".

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).