Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Air Defense Exercise Readies Fighters for Super Bowl Mission

WASHINGTON - Military fighter jets will be busy this week preparing to protect the skies around Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, during Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6.

Amalgam Virgo 11-05A, a North American Aerospace Defense Command air defense exercise, will allow interagency partners the chance to practice procedures in response to airspace violations, officials said.

The Amalgam Virgo exercise comprises a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Civil Air Patrol, and the Continental United States NORAD Region's Western Air Defense Sector, officials said.

Residents in the area can expect flights to begin around 9 p.m. Feb. 2 and to continue for about an hour and a half.

"Interagency coordination is a key aspect of our daily air defense measures," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Garry C. Dean, commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region. "This Amalgam Virgo exercise is an excellent opportunity for all of our interagency air defenders to hone our air defense skills in preparation for Super Bowl Sunday."

These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure rapid response capability, officials said, noting that flights of this nature have taken place throughout the United States since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command's response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Since then, officials said, the Continental United States NORAD Region's fighters have responded to more than 3,400 possible air threats and have flown more than 58,200 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft.