Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
The U.S. military is putting its ability to protect the homeland from enemy bomber aircraft to the test in a major, first-of-its-kind exercise in the Atlantic from May 28 to May 31, US Northern Command announced Friday.
On offense, a number of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) supersonic B-1B Lancer long-range strategic bombers will simulate adversary aircraft trying to break through US defenses and penetrate US airspace.
Playing defense, Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s and U.S. Air Force F-15s under the bilateral Northern Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Navy F/A-18s from the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group under US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) will fend off the approaching bombers.
NORAD has significant experience defending North American airspace, as its fighter jets are routinely called to intercept Russian bombers, fighters, and surveillance aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, activities which have become more frequent in recent years.
The fighters participating in the exercise will be supported by KC-135 Stratotankers from U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM). The alert tankers are, like NORAD fighters, always on standby to respond to a potential threat.
U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) will be providing GPS and communications support throughout the mock engagement.
The B-1B bombers participating in this large-scale exercise are returning to the US from one of several recent bomber operations in Europe, and the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and its escort ships have been stuck at sea due to concerns over the coronavirus.
With these strategic assets already in place, military leaders saw this as an opportunity to conduct a joint exercise aimed at strengthening the joint force and increasing interoperability.
The ongoing exercise marks the first time four U.S. combatant commands and NORAD have come together to conduct homeland defense operations.
“Leading complex multi-combatant command operations across multiple domains demonstrates our readiness to defend our homeland regardless of COVID-19,” Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the NORTHCOM and NORAD commander, said Friday.
“The high-end training we are conducting enables integration between strategic-level organizations who all play a significant role in the most important mission for our nation — defending our homeland,” he added.
More from Business Insider:
- The Air Force is turning cargo planes into flying munitions trucks able to unleash a mass of standoff weapons
- B-1B bombers made another trip to Eastern Europe, where they flew with Ukrainian jets for the first time
- Watch an F-35 nearly plummet into the ocean during a test launch from an aircraft carrier