A U.S. Air Force F-16 is refueled mid-air over the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of the United States from a KC-135 tanker plane from the 101st Air Refueling Wing out of Bangor, Nov. 14. The F-16 was part of a group of warplanes from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumpter, S.C. headed for the Persian Gulf for possible military strikes against Iraq. The F-16 is just one of the aircraft scheduled to take part in NORAD exercises over the D.C. region this week.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command — more commonly known as NORAD — will be conducting flight exercises in the D.C. region Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

The flights are scheduled to take place between midnight and 2:30 a.m.,weather permitting. Should weather be an issue the exercise will take place Thursday morning.

The exercise, dubbed Falcon Virgo 18-02, is held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Regional Coordination Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center and the Eastern Air Defense Sector.

The exercise is designed to help NORAD hone its ability to intercept and identify potential air threats. Among the aircraft that will participate in the exercises: Air Force F-16 and C-21 aircraft, Civil Air Patrol C-182 aircraft, and a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

Such exercises have become a regular part of life in the National Capital Region following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.