CHARLOTTE, N.C. Fighter jets will conduct a military exercise over Charlotte Sunday morning, to prepare for the possibility of aircraft straying into restricted airspace during next week’s Democratic National Convention.
The exercise, called Amalgam Virgo, will start at 8:45 a.m. Sunday and last about 30 minutes, said John Cornelio, a spokesman for the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Air Force fighter jets will be on alert during the convention to intercept and identify any aircraft violating the Federal Aviation Administration’s temporary flight restrictions over Charlotte.
“You may not see anything, because they fly relatively high, but you may hear something. They do make more noise,” Cornelio said. “We don’t want people to be alarmed.”
A similar exercise was conducted during the Republic National Convention in Tampa. However, the DNC in Charlotte takes a higher profile due to the planned visit of President Barack Obama for a Thursday acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium.
It has not been confirmed whether Obama will stay over night before or after the speech, but hints include road restrictions scheduled next week near the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge in south Charlotte.
Military officials did not say how many aircraft will participate in Sunday’s exercise, but it will include Civil Air Patrol aircraft, Air Force F-16s, and a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter.
“Planning for special security events like this year’s Democratic National Convention in North Carolina is a part of our day to day air defense mission,” said Col. Randy Spear of the 601st Air and Space Operations Center.
“A lot of agencies are involved in air security for events like the DNC. This Amalgam Virgo exercise gives us a chance to sharpen air defense skills with our interagency partners prior to the event.”
The 601st Air and Space Operations Center is responsible for detecting, deterring, defending and if necessary, defeating any aviation threat to the citizens of the United States and to U.S. critical infrastructure. It is primarily manned by the Florida Air National Guard’s 101st Air and Space Operations Group.