NORAD intercepts two planes near US capitalWASHINGTON - US Air Force fighter jets intercepted two civilian planes flying in restricted airspace near Washington in separate incidents Saturday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said.
The breaches occurred within 72 minutes of one another, according to NORAD, the bi-national US-Canadian command responsible for the air defense of North America and responding to unknown or unauthorized air activity.
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In the first breach, two F-16 fighters were scrambled when a civilian aircraft lost radio communication near the capital.
"Once the pilot regained radio communication, it was allowed to proceed to its original destination," NORAD said in a statement from its headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
"The second aircraft entered into restricted airspace and was intercepted by one Air Force F-16 and a US Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter."
Once that civilian aircraft was intercepted, it was escorted out of restricted airspace and allowed to proceed to its original destination, NORAD added.
The command did not identify the planes involved in the breaches.
Interceptions of aircraft straying into restricted US airspace are not uncommon. In July, US fighter jets intercepted three small planes in separate incidents during a single weekend over Camp David, the US presidential retreat in the eastern state of Maryland.
by Lachlan Carmichael
(c) 2011 AFP