Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region fighters are active in the skies over Chicago in preparation for the NATO summit there.
Exercise Amalgam Virgo 12-NATO, a NORAD air defense exercise, will be held in the greater Chicago area to allow interagency partners an opportunity to work collaboratively in this environment, officials said.
The Amalgam Virgo exercise comprises a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, the NATO Summit Joint Operations Center and the Continental U.S. NORAD Region's Eastern Air Defense Sector.
Residents in the Chicago area can expect flights to begin around 9 a.m. Friday and continue for about two hours.
Exercise Amalgam Virgo is designed to hone NORAD's intercept and identification operations. Civil Air Patrol aircraft, Air National Guard C-21 aircraft, an Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker tanker, Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons and a Coast Guard HH-65 helicopter will participate in the exercise.
"Providing the air defense for special security events like this year's NATO summit is a part of our day-to-day mission," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Sid Clarke, the Continental U.S. NORAD Region commander. "Our interagency partnerships are a key component to the air defense shield for events like this, and the Amalgam Virgo exercise is an excellent opportunity for us to hone our air defense skills with all our interagency partners."
The Continental U.S. NORAD Region has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the United States since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command's response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
During the NATO Summit, Air Force fighter jets will be on alert to enforce the FAA's temporary flight restriction zone during the summit. Officials advised all aviators to check Notices to Airmen as required, with a special focus on temporary flight restrictions.