During the 2012 Vigilant Eagle exercises Russia’s servicemen and their U.S. and Canadian fellows repelled a hypothetical terrorist attack on a passenger airliner. They also practiced how to patrol the airliner after that. A special attention was paid to the procedure of transfer control of the liner from one country to another.
The drills are being held in the form of computerized command and staff exercises. The maneuvers are guided from the headquarters located in the Russian cities of Khabarovsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky as well as in American cities of Colorado-Springs and Anchorage in Alaska.
Passenger planes have always been one of the main targets for terrorists. It is enough to mention the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in the US or the explosions of two Russian planes in August 2004. Special services of any country must be able to repel such attacks, President of the International Anti-Terrorist Association Iosif Linder says:
"Terrorism is not a local epidemic - it has gripped the whole civilization. Only its shape and scale are changing. The risk factor will stay for long but in course of time new aspects of terrorism will come up which will require new solutions. The drills which are being held in that region are quite relevant because the borders of several states are located in that area."
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a joint U.S.-Canadian organization providing aerospace warning and defense for the two countries. Its command believes that the joint drills will contribute to the development of cooperation between NORAD and the Russian air forces. The global experience shows that interaction in such critical situation as a terrorist attack is vital, Roman Gusarov, chief editor of the AVIA.ru magazine says:
"First of all these international drills are aimed at the creation of the environment of mutual understanding between security services of different countries. If a force-majeure situation crops out it won’t become a shock and they will work according to a comprehensive plan without making a mess. For example, after September 11, 2001 we were bullied that if a plane does not contact flight control centers it is necessary to shoot it down. Unfortunately, sometimes the crew cannot go on air not due to technical failure and not because the plane was seized by terrorists."
The Vigilant Eagle drills are being held for the third time. First they were held in 2010. Then the air forces of the three countries practiced on searching, detecting and forced landing of airliners hypothetically seized by terrorists.