NORAD to patrol Space Shuttle operations

Local civic leaders, airport managers and elected officials in the greater Orlando and Cape Canaveral areas received a visual reminder (above) that the Continental U.S. NORAD Region is supporting STS-116 Space Shuttle launch operations beginning Dec. 1.  In addition to increased air defense deterrence missions CONR fighters will be making low approaches at Orlando Executive, Orlando Sanford International, Daytona Beach International, and Melbourne International Airports, on December 5.   The missions are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure public safety, and are not in response to any specific threat. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Mike Strickler)

Local civic leaders, airport managers and elected officials in the greater Orlando and Cape Canaveral areas received a visual reminder (above) that the Continental U.S. NORAD Region is supporting STS-116 Space Shuttle launch operations beginning Dec. 1. In addition to increased air defense deterrence missions CONR fighters will be making low approaches at Orlando Executive, Orlando Sanford International, Daytona Beach International, and Melbourne International Airports, on December 5. The missions are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure public safety, and are not in response to any specific threat. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Mike Strickler)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force is stepping up its air patrols in the Cape Canaveral area to increase security for upcoming Space Shuttle operations.

According to 1st Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Hank Morrow, the patrols are a smart, efficient way to protect American lives and resources in the region.

"NORAD protects a variety of national assets across the nation on any given day," said General Morrow. "In this case we're increasing our sorties in the Cape Canaveral area during the Space Shuttle launch window. It's part of our continuing mission to protect America's airways with our fighter air patrols."

Air patrols are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure public safety while practicing NORAD's rapid response capability. NORAD has conducted air patrols throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle -- the command's response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Increased military aircraft activity will have minimal impact on the heavy volume of low-flying aircraft in the area. The increased air patrols are not in response to any specific threat.

"We want local citizens to recognize this as a prudent measure as we work around the clock for their continued protection," General Morrow said.