Arctic Challenge exercise will see dozens of fighters in the northern sky

The air exercise is part of the Cross Border operations between Finland, Sweden and Norway expanding over the national boundaries. The goal is to enhance Nordic cooperation in the field of defence under NORDEFCO and develop capabilities for combined operations. Aircraft from Great Britain and the United States (US) will be also involved in the exercise.

The Finnish Air Force (FINAF) will participate in the international Arctic Challenge 2013 exercise 11 to 27 September with about ten F/A-18 Hornet fighters. The air exercise is considered one of the major training events this year for the FINAF, and it involves units from Sweden, Norway, Great Britain and the US. A total of some 80 aircraft will fly in the exercise.

The exercise has been planned and will be directed and carried out in cooperation between Finland, Sweden and Norway. The United States and Great Britain will act in the roles of training partners.

Flight activity takes place in the airspace of Finland, Sweden and Norway 16 to 20 September and 23 to 26 September from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. Aircraft mainly operate over Northern Sweden but they also fly over the Gulf of Bothnia and in the airspace of Finland and Sweden. In addition, air activity can be observed in the extreme northwest of Finland and in the vicinity of Bodø in Norway.

The exercise bases are located in Rovaniemi in Finland, Kallax in Sweden and Bodø and

Ørland in Norway. The Swedish detachment will be deployed to Rovaniemi base whereas part of the FINAF F/A-18 Hornet fleet will fly from Bodø. Oulu airport in Oulunsalo is the alternate operating base.

The exercise is performed under the direction of Commander of Norrbotten Wing 21 of the Swedish Air Force. The FINAF flight detachment is led by Lapland Air Command Commander Colonel Harri Leppälaakso.

Cost-effective and diversified training

The aim is to improve air defence capability incorporated with Nordic cooperation in the field of defence under NORDEFCO. Combined operations provide a cost-effective and high-quality opportunity to the fighter pilots of participating countries to develop national capabilities, tactical know-how and various forms of cooperation. One of the objectives is also to train service personnel for command and control, aircraft maintenance and ground support duties in combined operations.

The exercise also enables the FINAF to develop and and test the Mid-Life Upgrade 2 (MLU2) capabilities of the F/A-18, like Link 16 data link and the different aspects of air-to-surface operations.

In addition to Finland's ten F/A-18s, Norway will assign to the exercise ten F-16 fighters and Sweden twenty-two JAS 39 Gripens. The hosting nations will be joined by the US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) with nearly thirty F-15 fighters and one to two air refuelling tankers. The British detachment will include six Eurofighter Typhoons. The NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft will be involved in the exercise, too.

For further information:

Finnish Air Force Public Affairs Section Tel. +358299291136

YouTube video of the Finnish Defence Forces production provides additional information of Nordic Cross Border air exercises