NORAD, short for North America Aerospace Defense Command, is planning to conduct what they’re describing as an “air defense exercise” over the nation’s capital on Tuesday and aircraft, including F-16 fighter jets, may be visible in and around Washington, DC, even at low altitudes.
The exercise is scheduled for early Tuesday morning from midnight to 2:30 am. Lead by the Continental U.S. NORAD Region team, a variety of aircraft will participate in the event, including F-16 fighter jets from NORAD, MH-65D Dolphin Helicopters from the U.S. Coast, C-12 aircraft from the U.S. Army and Cessna 182T aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol. Because of the timing of the exercise, significant impacts to commercial aviation are not expected. Officials do caution that some flight activity may happen as low as 2,500 feet and as such people shouldn’t be alarmed if they see military aircraft operating so low.
According to NORAD, exercises like these are tied to Operation NOBLE EAGLE . Operation NOBLE EAGLE was initiated following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. While NORAD’s mission has always been to protect the airspace of the U.S. and Canada, prior to 9/11, NORAD was primarily postured to look outward. According to NORAD, their mission has changed over the last two decades to include a focus on threats that may originate within the U.S. and Canada, and the addition of a maritime warning mission.
The control of North American airspace is a primary mission for NORAD personnel. NORAD identifies, monitors, and tracks suspect air traffic approaching and traveling through North American Airspace. NORAD has been in the news often lately with UFO’s entering U.S. and Canadian airspace without authorization in recent days. UFOs were shot-down over Alaska, northwest Canada, and near the U.S. / Canada border over Lake Huron in the Great Lakes in recent days.
On February 2, a very large balloon traced back to China was observed flying over the United States; on February 4, it was shot down off the coast of South Carolina. That incident became the first time U.S. military shot-down another aircraft over North America since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Since then, a UFO was spotted and shot down on Friday over Alaska, Saturday over Canada, and Sunday over Lake Huron near the U.S. / Canadian border.