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Skies over Super Bowl covered by NORAD

NORAD F-15

The skies above the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Feb. 3 will be protected by Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region jet fighters.

The NORAD security team looked to practice its mission in the city just as players for the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers got ready for Super Bowl XLVII.

Days ahead of the game, NORAD prepared to conduct an air defense exercise called Exercise Falcon Virgo 13-Super Bowl. The exercise allows interagency partners the chance to practice procedures for responding to airspace violations, said NORAD.

The exercise was originally scheduled for Jan. 29, but dense fog in the New Orleans area forced it to be moved to Jan. 30.

NORAD told New Orleans residents they could expect flights to begin around 7 a.m. and continue for about an hour.

The Falcon Virgo exercise, said the command, is a series of training flights in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Civil Air Patrol, the 601st Air and Space Operations Center, and the Continental U.S. NORAD Region’s Western Air Defense Sector. The agencies are part of America’s team for defense of the air space around the nation, including events like the Super Bowl.

The command said it has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the nation’s ongoing response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“A key aspect of our daily air defense measures lies in our interagency coordination,” said Lt. Gen. Sid Clarke, Continental U.S. NORAD Region commander. “This Falcon Virgo exercise is the perfect opportunity for the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and all our interagency partners to work together honing our air defense skills before Sunday’s big game.”

The exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure the Continental U.S. Region’s rapid response capability, according to the command. “When it comes to defending America’s skies, whether it’s Super Bowl Sunday or any other day, the men and women of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and America’s AOC are always on duty,” said General Clarke. “We are America’s Airmen…On the Watch.”

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Continental U.S. NORAD Region fighters have responded to more than 5,000 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 62,500 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft for Operation Noble Eagle.