USAF F-15s intercept Korean Air 777 near Vancouver

060614-F-8260H-302.JPGTwo US Air Force F-15 Eagle fighters were scrambled tointercept a Korean Air Boeing 777 airliner shortly after it took off fromVancouver, British Columbia, due to a bomb threat.

The Boeing-built air superiority fighters were launched outof Portland, Oregon, under the auspices of the North American Aerospace DefenseCommand (NORAD) to intercept the airliner around 4:00 Pacific time 10 April.

“The Korean airliner was intercepted, diverted and theaircraft was shadowed until it landed at Canadian Forces Base Comox [BritishColumbia] at approximately 5:30,” a Pentagon spokesman says.

The F-15s were likely part of the Oregon Air NationalGuard’s 142nd Fighter Wing, which performs the air sovereigntymission for NORAD and its parent US Northern Command organization.

CFB Comox sometimes serves as a temporary forward base forCanadian Forces CF-18 Hornets, which are also built by Boeing, but is primarilyused by search and rescue and maritime patrol aircraft. Given that US aircraftwere used for the intercept, it is unlikely that a CF-18 detachment is currentlypresent at the base.

NORAD itself is a joint Canadian and US command that wasestablished in 1958 to defend North American airspace from intruders andprovide warning of a nuclear attack. At the time, the threat was primarily fromSoviet bombers and ICBMs, but after the events of September 11, 2001, NORADtook on an expanded role in policing the skies against similar terroristthreats.

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