US joins coalition for largest Nordic exercise
Exercise Arctic Challenge is the premier Nordic large-force, live-fly field training exercise and it focuses on advancing Arctic security initiatives and enhancing interoperability throughout the High North.
As the newest member of NATO, Finland is leading this year’s iteration of Arctic Challenge and signifies the strength and capability of the alliance throughout the Nordic region.
The exercise began in 2013, occurring biennially, as an interoperability training exercise between Finland, Sweden, and Norway, and it has now expanded to incorporate nearly every Arctic nation and many NATO allies and partners.
The US, through US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa and the Maine Air National Guard – have joined as one of 13 nations plus NATO participating in the sixth iteration of the exercise.
RAF Lakenheath’s 48th Fighter Wing committed eight F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation stealth fighters from the 493rd Fighter Squadron which will operate from Norway’s Ørland Air Base.
The 48th Fighter Wing also deployed 14 F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighters from the 494th Fighter Squadron to Finland’s Pirkkala Air Base.
A contingent of KC-135R Stratotanker aerial refuelling aircraft from RAF Mildenhall’s 100th Air Refuelling Wing and the Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Air Refuelling Wing are scheduled to support coalition aerial refuelling requirements for the duration of the exercise.
US Air Force exercise controllers from Nellis AFB’s 414th Combat Training ‘Red Flag’ Squadron will integrate with Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian coordinators at Sweden’s Luleå Air Base to support host nation, exercise planners.
US Marine Forces Europe and Africa will provide advanced ground-based radar capabilities for coalition forces throughout the exercise to extend aircraft visibility and advance air-to-ground training objectives.
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