No, a sequel to "Top Gun" was not being filmed in the skies over the Twin Cities.

Those fighter jets buzzing around town Tuesday afternoon in a high-elevation game of cat and mouse were part of a roughly three-hour military exercise.

The F-16 aircraft were flying under the direction of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, more commonly known as NORAD.

These aircraft "routinely conduct training exercises of this nature throughout the country to hone their intercept and identification skills," said Thomas Saunders, a spokesman for Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

Saunders said he was getting the word out about the exercises "to alleviate any concern ... when you look up and see a fighter jet chasing another plane."

And sure enough, an e-mail sent to the Star Tribune on Tuesday afternoon read, "Any idea what the fighter jet was doing over Shakopee? It U-turned heading north as it seemed to be pursuing another plane." A commenter on the Star Tribune's Facebook account said he saw the exercise unfolding over Woodbury. Another wrote: "I covered my ears and wondered if the sound barrier was gonna break!!!"

Also involved were the Air Force's C-21 cargo and passenger aircraft and Cessnas in the Civil Air Patrol.

These exercises have been conducted since the start of Operation Noble Eagle in response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482