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NORAD to conduct exercise flights

North American Aerospace Defense Command will practice Thursday in area

If you see fighter jets escorting what may look like an airliner, don't worry. We are not under attack.

North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct exercise flights Thursday in northwest Ohio to practice intercept and identification procedures, authorities said.

Weather permitting, the exercise will occur between midnight and 2 p.m. in the area between Toledo and Marion, Ohio, according to a written statement released by NORAD.

"We just put [a news release] out so people don't get alarmed when they see the jets," Capt. Jennifer Stadnyk, a NORAD spokesman said. "What people might see are fighter jets flying by themselves at low altitude or they might be escorting a civilian looking aircraft."

The number of aircraft depends on the scenario that changes from place to place, Captain Stadnyk said. The escorted aircraft would be, in fact, a military or a contracted aircraft taking on the role of "aircraft of interest," according to the statement.

NORAD does exercises with scenarios such as airspace restriction violations, hijackings, and responding to unknown aircraft in order to test responses, systems, and equipment, the spokesman said.  The agency has held such exercises across the United States and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

NORAD is a bi-national command that provides maritime warning, aerospace warning, and aerospace control for Canada and the United States.

The flights may be delayed or cancelled due to adverse weather.

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