The Royal Canadian Air Force has dispatched a C-130T aerial refueling tanker from Winnipeg to take part in a massive air force exercise in Northern Europe.
The Arctic Challenge Exercise 2017 (ACE 17) organised by the Air Forces of Finland, Norway and Sweden kicked off Monday with over 100 aircraft from 11 participating nations.
This year’s biennial exercise is the third and the largest exercise organized by Finland, Norway and Sweden since 2013.
Arctic Challenge exercises are part of the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) between Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The goal of the exercise is to improve the capability of multinational troops to participate in combined air operations for the purposes of crisis management, Finnish Defence Force Col. Petteri Seppälä, who leads the exercise, said in a statement.
“All the multinational participants and a wide range and large number of aircraft involved in ACE 17 make it interesting and challenging in terms of planning and execution,” said Seppälä. “The exercise is really an excellent manifestation of the Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish Air Forces’ versatility and high standard cooperation capability.”
ACE 17 involves aircraft and personnel from Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.
In addition to fighters jets, transport and liaison aircraft, aerial refuelling tankers, electronic warfare aircraft, airborne warning and control system aircraft, transport and search and rescue helicopters accompanied by ground troops and ground-based air defence units will participate in the exercise, officials said.
And for the first time as many as three U.S. strategic B-52H Stratofortress bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons will take part in the exercise, right on Russia’s northwestern border.
The Canadian C-130T aerial refueling tanker from 17 Wing Winnipeg will be based out of the Rovaniemi air base in northern Finland, about 200 kilometres west of the border with Russia, for the duration of the exercise that will wrap up on June 2.