On Sunday it won’t just be football teams suiting up for kickoff.
Men and women from the U.S. and Canadian Air Forces are prepared to defend the skies over the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota during Super Bowl 52.
The Super Bowl security measure is part of Operation Noble Eagle, an ongoing military mission tasked with securing the country’s airspace since Sept. 11, 2001.
North American Aerospace Defense Command provides a large part of the military operation.
“NORAD has conducted air patrols throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle,” explained Canadian Navy Lt. Marco Chouinard.
On Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration will create a temporary flight restriction zone above the stadium.
“TFRs are restrictions on an area of airspace due to the movement of government VIPs, special events, natural disasters, or other unusual events,” said Chouinard.
Much like football, protecting the restricted airspace is a team effort.
“The men and women of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and America’s Air Operations Center have worked with our interagency partners to protect the skies above the Super Bowl,” said Lt. Gen. R. Scott Williams, commander of the Continental U.S. NORAD region, in a statement. “Our goal is to watch the skies so that the worldwide audience can focus on the game.”
Aircraft from both the U.S. and Canadian militaries could participate.
“Aircraft could include F-15, F-16, F-22 and CF-18 fighters, USCG Dolphin helicopters, and other support aircraft such as AWACS and air refuelers. Other equipment may also include ground-based radars and short-range missile systems,” said the Air Force.
An Air Force press release explained that NORAD fighters have responded to more than 6,000 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 68,000 sorties for Operation Noble Eagle.
“When the whistle blows know that there are more than just two teams participating in Sunday’s event. A dedicated team of air defenders… will be working together to protect the skies over the stadium,” Williams said.