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​North American Aerospace Defense Command is conducting nighttime air defense exercises over Washington, D.C., for Exercise Falcon Virgo 16-1, officials announced. The periodic live-fly exercises ensure seamless command and control coordination between NORAD, federal agencies in the National Capital Region, and air defense assets, according to a release. Complex scenarios, such as alert F-16s from JB Andrews, Md., intercepting light Civil Air Patrol aircraft and handing over escort to Coast Guard MH-65 helicopters, test the integration of every element of NCR defenses. The Oct. 19-22 exercise will include NCR Visual Warning System tests and provide training for the region's Joint Air Defense Operations Center personnel. Several NORAD alert units conducted comple​mentary, smaller-scale Fertile Keynote intercept exercises last week. Alert fighters have responded to 5,000 potential air threats to the continental United States since the beginning of Operation Noble Eagle, flying more than 62,500 sorties since Sept. 11, 2001, according to NORAD. (Read more about NORAD alert exercises in Air Force Magazine.)