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Airborne Anti-Terrorist Operation Getting Underway

Aired June 4, 2002 - 11:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: An airborne anti-terrorist operation is getting underway today. It's in the skies over western U.S. -- in the western U.S. and Canada. The exercise is sponsored by the government's North American Air Defense Command. We get the latest from our Patty Davis, who is in Washington.

Patty, good morning.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Daryn.

It may eerily similar to September 11th, two hijackings this morning, but the hijackings are not real. They are a joint U.S.- Canadian terrorism exercise run by NORAD called Amalgam Virgo II. Now the two planes, a Delta 757, with actual Delta pilots in the flight deck, will be hijacked by FBI agents as it makes its trip from Salt Lake City to Honolulu. That plane will be diverted in midair to Elmendorf Air Base in Anchorage, Alaska.

The other plane, a Navy C-9, acting as commercial DC-9, will be hijacked by Royal Canadian Mounted Police as is it goes from Whidbey Island at Naval Air Station to Vancouver International airport. Amalgam Virgo II was planned before Septmber 11th, and involves 1,500 participants, no live fire, though, and no paying passengers on board. These are not scheduled flights. Now we don't know exactly how these hijackings will play out. Neither do the pilots. Even their bases from which the U.S. and military -- the U.S.-Canadian jets will be scrambled, don't know they are.

As part of the exercise, those military jets will be ordered to either shoot the aircraft down, of course not really shoot them down, or force the airliners to land. Once on the ground, the FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police will do hostage negotiations. The purpose, NORAD says, to test and improve the coordination and communication between the U.S. and Canada, the FAA, the FBI, the airlines, should another hijacking take place -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Patty Davis in Washington, thank you so much.

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