From 23-27 September, the NATO Russia Council (NRC) Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI) conducted a counter-terrorism exercise over the skies of Poland, Russia and Turkey involving fighter aircraft, military personnel and command centres from the Arctic to the Black Sea.
The exercise, called Vigilant Skies 2013, was directed from the Warsaw and Moscow Coordination Centres. EUROCONTROL and the NCI Agency made additional displays of the CAI system available to the CAOCs in Torrejón and Uedem, and the Air Operations Centre in Poland.
Observers from Sweden, Bulgaria, Finland, Serbia, Lithuania Ukraine and Armenia were present in either of the NATO or Russian Coordination Centres. The General Manager of the NCI Agency, Koen Gijsbers observed the exercise in Poland and represented the NATO SecGen in the press conference.
At the NATO-Russia Ministers' meeting on 23 October 2013, the NATO Secretary General declared that "The exercise was a great success. We now have a proven joint capacity to respond to the hijacking of civilian aircraft and we have showed how effective the NATO-Russia Council is in this field."
During the event the USA also showed a proof of principle that they can successfully connect to the NATO CAI system, providing live tracks from Alaska. Pending further political-level consultations between Russia, NATO and US, the USA plans to formally join the CAI network in 2014.
The NCI Agency has designed, procured and tested the NATO side of the CAI system and is currently responsible for the enhancements to the system, and its operations and maintenance. It is leading the NATO-Russia team supporting operator training and readiness. For this exercise the NCI Agency was the chief evaluator.
For more information contact Dr René van der Heiden, CapDev Joint ISR.