The Russian Air Force will conduct an annual cooperative air defence exercise, Vigilant Eagle 2012, with the US and Canadian air forces’ personnel from 27 to 29 August 2012, the Eastern Military District’s press service confirmed.

Eastern Military District’s spokesman colonel Alexander Gordeyev was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that the drills were aimed at practising interaction between Russian troops and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in the event of terrorist attack on a passenger aircraft.

Vigilant Eagle 2012, third in the series, is scheduled to be conducted in Colorado Springs and Anchorage, US, and in the cities of Khabarovsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in Russia’s Far East.

Eastern Military District’s Third Air Force and Air Defense Command commander major general Sergei Dronov will lead the Russian units, while the NORAD’s units will be led by the command’s training and exercise director Joseph Bonnet III.

Gordeyev said, ”The first group led by Maj. Gen. Dronov will operate as part of the main headquarters in Colorado Springs.”

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”The second group led by Maj. Gen. Sergei Zhmurin, the head of the Eastern Military District’s Air Defense and Aviation, will take part in the work of the secondary headquarters in Anchorage,” Gordeyev added.

The drills will feature two simulated international flights, including one from Alaska into Russian airspace followed by another from Moscow into the US airspace, which have been hijacked by terrorists, according to a NORAD press release.

”The aircraft will not respond to communications. The exercise scenario creates a situation that requires both the Russian Air Force and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and follow the aircraft,” the release added.

The exercise will eventually culminate in cooperative hand-off of the aircraft between fighter jets of the two countries.

Conducted since 2010, the Vigilant Eagle exercise intends to continue development of cooperation between the Russian air force and NORAD in preventing and combating potential air terrorism threats.