Air defense exercise hones air-intercept skills
/ Published May 25, 2017
ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. (AFNS) -- Aircrews and associated support personnel from across the military air-defense enterprise are here for a three-day Aerospace Control Alert CrossTell live-fly training exercise from May 23-25, 2017.
Representatives from Air National Guard fighter wings, Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard rotary-wing air intercept units will conduct daily live-fly sorties to hone their skills with tactical-level air-intercept procedures.
During the exercise, Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcons and Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopters conducted intercept operations of the Civil Air Patrol aircraft. Coast Guard MH-65s are largely tasked with intercepting aircraft with similar characteristics to the ones flown by Civil Air Patrol.
The training scenarios replicated airborne intercepts of aircraft that fly into airspace the Federal Aviation Administration has established as temporarily flight restricted airspace. Temporary flight restrictions (TFR) are established by the FAA and enforced by the North American Aerospace Defense Command during high-visibility national events such as the political nominating conventions, the Super Bowl, the State of the Union address, as well as presidential travel. The FAA posts TFR information in affected areas as notices to airmen to warn general aviation pilots prior to flight about the temporarily prohibited airspace on their website at www.tfr.faa.gov.
Exercise participants include Air National Guard F-16D Viper aircrews from the 113th Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland; 169th Fighter Wing, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina; 177th FW, Atlantic City International Airport, New Jersey; U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City; and support aircraft and crews from the Civil Air Patrol flying a Cessna 206 and Cessna 182, performing duties in their Air Force auxiliary role.
“This Aerospace Control Alert CrossTell Exercise presents an invaluable opportunity for us to further our working and training relationships with our interagency partners to include the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, ACA-qualified units, and the Civil Air Patrol,” said Royal Canadian Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Ormsby, the Continental U.S NORAD Region deputy commander.
The exercise has been carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure CONR’s rapid response capability. NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Additionally, CONR officials said this exercise will help enhance geospatial orientation and awareness of the Bedminster, New Jersey, TFR area established on a recurring basis whenever the President visits his residence there.
“Most pilots don’t take off with the intent of violating airspace rules. With the reoccurring temporary flight restriction in the Bedminster, New Jersey, area the best thing pilots can do is check their notice to airmen before each flight and fly informed,” Ormsby said . “But if a pilot does find him or herself in a restricted airspace and sees a military fighter jet or helicopter off their wing there are a few key things to remember. First, remain predictable - -maintain your current altitude, heading, and airspeed; next turn your radio to the guard frequency, 121.5, to talk with the fighter or helicopter; finally, comply with instructions from the fighter or helicopters to exit the flight restricted airspace safely.”
Since Sept. 11, 2001, CONR has safely escorted all violators out of restricted airspace. Additionally, CONR fighters have responded to more than 5,000 possible air threats in the United States and flown about 68,000 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft.
Civil Air Patrol's volunteer pilots and aircrew are flying single-engine Cessna airplanes to act as tracks of interest that violate restricted airspace for this exercise. By utilizing the selfless service of the Air Force auxiliary as a total force partner during these missions, real-world training can be conducted at a fraction of the cost compared to utilizing other Coast Guard or Air Force aircraft.