NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) scrambled two F-15 fighter jets to intercept a Canadian commercial flight en route from Montreal to Cuba on Thursday, July 6.
A statement from the airline, Sunwing, attributes the incident to “an unruly customer making non-specific threats.”
A NORAD representative said he could not discuss the criteria that would launch a Norad intercept but confirmed two F-15s were dispatched to Barnes Air National Guard Base in Barnes, Massachusetts, to intercept the flight.
“We intercepted them while they were over U.S. air space,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Chase McFarland. “The Norad aircraft did escort that commercial flight back to Montreal, and it landed approximately 7:22pm.”
After returning to Montreal’s Dorval airport, the flight to Cayo Coco, Cuba, was rescheduled.
According to Sunwing, the passengers were given accommodations and meal vouchers until their flight could take off at
8:37 a.m. local time the next day.
“We have also compensated them for the inconvenience caused. We regret this delayed start to their vacations,” said the airline.
Four other jets were also scrambled, said McFarland.
Two F-16s were scrambled from Atlantic City, New Jersey, but never intercepted the flights. There were also two CF-18s scrambled from CFB Bagotville, Quebec.
“They did not intercept, they just monitored from a distance and maintained ready to respond until or if required,” said McFarland.
NORAD, The North American Aerospace Defense Command, provides a platform for U.S.-Canadian shared aerospace defense and coordination.
While it does not maintain its own assets, it does provide rapid and effective cooperation between the two nations militaries and combined assets. That cooperation allows both countries better warning, detection, and defense capability.
In 2006, the NORAD Agreement was renewed and expanded to include a maritime warning mission.