16 Finnish jets join NATO-dominated exercise over Arctic

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A Finnish Air Force Hornet jet on May 16, 2011. (Heikki Saukkomaa/AFP/Getty Images)
A Finnish Air Force Hornet jet on May 16, 2011. (Heikki Saukkomaa/AFP/Getty Images)
Nearly 100 planes from nine countries will fly over northern parts of Finland, Sweden and Norway during the 12-day Arctic Challenge Exercise.

The Finnish Air Force announced details of its involvement in the manoeuvres on Wednesday.

Sixteen Hornet fighter jets from the Finnish Air Force will take part in a multi-national aviation exercise in the northern Nordic region beginning May 25.

Planes from 10 countries will fly over northern parts of Finland, Sweden and Norway during the 12-day Arctic Challenge Exercise. The Finnish Air Force announced details of its involvement in the manoeuvres on Wednesday. The Finnish Air Force has 62 Boeing F/A-18 C/D Hornet jets.

Dubbed Cross Border Training North, the exercise is one of the most important events of the year for the Air Force.

Altogether some 100 aircraft are to participate, from the three Nordic host countries as well as Switzerland, the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany, United States – and NATO. All are NATO members except Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, all traditionally non-aligned states that are now part of the alliance’s Partnership for Peace programme.

Finnish planes won’t drop weapons

Most of the flight operations will take place over northern Sweden. The Finnish Hornets will fly out of bases in Rovaniemi and Bodø on Norway’s north-west coast.

The exercise will involve dropping weapons on to targets in Sweden and Norway. However the Finnish planes will not carry out these delivery missions.

According to the Norwegian Air Force, the exercise will also include weapon delivery against airborne targets, combating simulated anti-air artillery, low-level flying and mid-air refuelling.

Sweden will take part with 16 Jas Gripen fighters and Norway with about 10 F-16 jets. The US will also send F-16’s, which will fly alongside German Eurofighter Typhoons, French Mirage 2000s and Swiss Hornets.

NATO will also supply AWACS jets, transportation jets and tankers, and DA-20 Jet Falcons. The exercise is to conclude on June 5.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Indigenous leaders warn international community, continued tensions with Russia will harm Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark:  Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News

Finland:  Finland’s president talks Arctic, Ukraine, Iran in phoner with Putin, Yle News

Norway: Norway must ramp up military in response to Russia: report, Barents Observer

Russia: Russian governor praises role of Barents Cooperation, Barents Observer

Sweden: Security expert: “Russia seeks to block Baltic energy independence”, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. Arctic rep: Russia’s Arctic buildup not necessarily martial, Alaska Public Radio Network

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