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Exercise to Test Aerospace Response Over Washington

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2009 – The North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct an exercise over the nation’s capital and its suburbs May 15, Defense Department officials said today.

Exercise Falcon Virgo tests the aerospace defense of the national capital area.

Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, Coast Guard Dolphin choppers and Civil Air Patrol Cessnas will participate in the exercise. A number of Falcon Virgo exercises have taken place since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, officials said. The most recent one over Washington was in March.

“The exercise is always held in the middle of the night to not interfere with civilian air traffic,” Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Almarah Belk said. “The aircraft involved follow all noise abatement procedures.”

The exercise is in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Region Command Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, the Continental U.S. NORAD Region, the Civil Air Patrol and the Coast Guard.

Residents in the area can expect flights to occur shortly after midnight and into the early morning hours May 15. The exercise should wrap up during the morning. In the event of inclement weather, it will be cancelled.

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