News & Politics

NORAD Will Conduct Military Drills Over DC in the Middle of the Night

Don't be alarmed if you hear or see jets after midnight. NORAD says it's a monthly air defense drill.

iStock/Getty Images Plus photo by MMADIA.

Perhaps you woke up to a tweet this morning about airspace defense drills scheduled to fly over DC early tomorrow morning. The news—which might seem alarming, given all the public anxiety about unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, being shot down—was first reported by Fox, which tweeted about it yesterday evening.

Indeed, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will practice routine air defense drills over DC from midnight to 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 14. Major Andrew Scott, a NORAD Public Operations Officer, said tomorrow’s drills are part of regularly scheduled operations. (NORAD has done such routine exercises before.)

According to a press release provided to Washingtonian by Scott, some of these exercises may be visible from the ground, as some flights will take place at 2,500 feet. Participating aircraft include Air Force F-15 fighter jets, a US Coast Guard MH-65D Dolphin helicopter, a US Army C-12 aircraft, and a Civil Air Patrol Cessna 182T General Aviation aircraft. These operations will be overseen by the Continental US NORAD Region. 

NORAD conducts monthly defense exercises of the National Capital region, called Falcon Virgo. Falcon Virgo works “to hone NORAD’s intercept and identification operations during airspace security events,” according to their website. Falcon Virgo is part of a larger operation, Operation Noble Eagle, NORAD’s mission to protect the United States and Canada from airspace threats, which was instituted after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 

The organization routinely practices exercises to address various needs, including airspace restriction violations, hijackings, and responses to unknown aircrafts. 

Tory Basile
Editorial Fellow