January 15th, 2009
07:55 AM ET
14 years ago

Military jets practicing for Inauguration Day threats

WASHINGTON (CNN) – U.S. military aircraft are practicing for worst case scenarios in the skies over the Washington, DC area in an effort to secure the skies on Inauguration Day.

On Wednesday, Air Force fighter jets and Coast Guard helicopters practiced chasing wayward planes that may fly into restricted areas around Washington.

The rehearsal is dubbed "Falcon Virgo" by the military.

"These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure NORAD's(North American Aerospace Defense Command) rapid response capability," according to a statement from NORAD.

Officials would not talk about specifics about the practice for security reasons, but similar exercises have occurred around the country in the past after September 11, 2001.

In an interview with CNN, commander of forces in North America, General Gene Renuart spoke about keeping watch over the United States and special events such as the Presidential Inauguration.

"We feel very comfortable that we can monitor anything that we need to in the national capital region," Renuart said.

In past alerts military fighter aircraft or Coast guard helicopters would identify a suspicious plane and swoop in and keep the plane from taking any hostile actions.

"That aircraft would be identified and if we felt that we could not determine its intentions we could launch fighters to intercept that aircraft and being to identify that aircraft and what its intentions might be," Renuart said about any threat on Inauguration day.

According to NORAD statistics, since Sept. 11, 2001, NORAD fighters have responded to more than 2,100 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 51,000 sorties with the fighter and other surveillance aircraft.

Filed under: Inauguration
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Simmy

    USM: Do your thing! Keep the skies and our new President safe! 91PS.

    January 15, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. D. Hunter

    why in GODS name would you release the name of a operation meant to protect the president in a "worse case"?

    January 15, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Tim

    I hear what you are sayin', D. Hunter, but maybe it's a press release to knuckleheads to let them know they'll be vaporized if they try something stupid. A pre-emptive announcement.

    January 15, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. big mistake

    I agree, shame on you CNN for reporting this, shame on you secret service and military: what possessed you to release any information about this

    On another note: if the blue angles, if they perform, are fantastic and my heart goes out to the airman's family of the one that crashed, we saw them in San Fran and thought it might loosely pertain to the airforce

    January 15, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. James

    They released the name of a PRACTICE operation, that ALREADY occurred....

    January 15, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. shoegazer

    "According to NORAD statistics,since Sept.11,2001,NORAD fighters have responded to more than 2,100 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 51,000 sorties with the fighter and other surveillance aircraft".......too bad they weren't this efficient ON
    Sept.11,2001.Unfortunately most of us will be long gone before the truth ever sees the light of day.

    January 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. haha

    it was already released you worry worts

    January 15, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. Sai'prix

    I believe that the President is in great hands... He has made it so far in his journey to the White House safely.

    January 20, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |