Laser Tag, NORAD Style, Is No Game...

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You're It

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has unveiled its laser-based warning system designed to prevent innocently errant pilots from being shot down in the hypersensitive restricted airspace surrounding Washington, D.C. Starting in about a month, pilots who stray into the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) will get "illuminated" with alternating blasts of "safe" green and red laser pulses by the Visual Warning System (VWS). As AVweb told you in January, the system is intended to cause pilots to immediately get out of the ADIZ (not press on to investigate the odd flashing lights) and those who don't risk interception and/or personal acquaintance with the firepower available to military pilots. The system was spawned by an incident last year in which a series of communications problems and foul-ups (none of which were the fault of the pilots involved) almost resulted in the downing of a King Air carrying the governor of Kentucky to former President Ronald Reagan's funeral. Note now that the responsibility for not getting shot down rests entirely with the pilot and his correct interpretation of those bright green and red lights.