You may see an aircraft similar to the one in the photo above nearing North American airspace. You may even see Canadian and US fighter aircraft nearby. While we understand your knee-jerk reaction would be to run down to the nearest Sun Media office and issue a heroic press release, you might want to consider this.
The Russian Federation Air Force and the North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct a first-ever cooperative air defense exercise. The civilian air control agencies of Russia (Federal Air Navigational Service) and the United States (Federal Aviation Administration) will also be involved in the exercise along with the military air operations centers at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and Khabarovsk, Russia. The exercise, named VIGILANT EAGLE, will take place on or about Aug. 8-11 and involves Russian, Canadian and U.S. Air Force personnel operating from command centers in Russia and the United States. This exercise is authorized under a cooperative military agreement signed by the presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States of America. The agreement tasks NORAD, the bi-national U.S. and Canadian command, and the Russian Federation Air Force to conduct a live-fly exercise for up to five days. It will consist of two international flights: one originating in Alaska and traveling to the Far East followed by one originating in the Far East and traveling to Alaska. Both flights will follow the same route. The basic premise is that a U.S. flagged commercial air carrier on an international flight (Fencing 1220) has been taken over by terrorists. The aircraft will not respond to communications. The exercise scenario will create a situation that requires both the Russian Air Force and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and follow Fencing 1220. The exercise will focus on shadowing and the cooperative hand-off of the monitored aircraft (Fencing 1220) between fighters of the participating nations. Airborne warning and control aircraft (AWACS E-3B and A-50) from Russia and the United States will be involved along with fighter-interceptor aircraft and refueling aircraft from both countries. This combined exercise moves us forward in the development of cooperation between the Russian Federation Air Force and NORAD in preventing possible threats of air terrorism. This exercise provides the opportunity to cooperatively detect, track, identify, intercept and follow an aircraft as it proceeds across international boundaries.Just so you don't think this is some kind of blindside horked on you by a bunch of liberal commies, be aware that this exercise has been in the works since April 2008 and Russian participation has been under consideration since 2007.
Somewhat awkward, what? Just when you puff up your neck feathers the Russians turn "the game" friendly.