Fighter jets flying low over Arctic Finland for military drill in northern Sweden

A Saab Gripen fighter jet at the AIR14 air show in Switzerland, in 2014. Swedish and Finnish fighters are flying low above Finnish Lapland as part of the Northern Wind military exercise, taking place in northern Sweden. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)
Planes from the Finnish and Swedish air forces could be seen flying over Finnish Lapland on Friday as part of a multi-national military exercise. Some 10,000 troops from five countries are taking part in the Northern Wind manoeuvres. That includes 1500 troops and 500 vehicles from Finland. The annual exercises centre on northern Sweden, but aircraft will fly over western parts of Finnish Lapland on Friday and Saturday.

The Swedish and Finnish fighter jets will fly in and out of Rovaniemi, across a wide area including the Tornio Valley, Kemi, Kittilä and Enontekiö. The exercises, called Flygvapenövning 19 (FVÖ19), include low and supersonic flights.

Taking part at the Rovaniemi air base are 4-6 Finnish F/A-18 Hornet jets as well as eight Swedish Saab Gripen C/D multirole fighter aircraft planes and two Saab Special Flight Operations (SFO) Learjets specialised in electronic warfare.

Bright flares across the sky

Military officials advise residents to expect noise as well as bright lights in the sky caused by defensive countermeasures known as chaff and flares.

Just over 200 Finnish pilots and troops from the Finnish Army are taking part, along with three NH90 transport helicopters. Altogether more than 60 aircraft are participating in FVÖ19.

It is part of the larger Northern Wind exercise, which involves forces from three NATO countries – Norway, the UK and the US – as well as Finland and Sweden, which are not NATO members, but which cooperate closely with the alliance. However it is not officially considered a NATO operation.

The air exercises are scheduled to last until next Wednesday afternoon.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s 2019 budget slim on hard power Arctic commitments, experts say, Radio Canada International

Finland: With more and more defence ties, is Finland moving away from its non-aligned status?, Yle News

Norway: NATO’s Arctic dilemma, Eye on the Arctic special report

Russia: Izvestia: What awaits foreign military vessels on Northern Sea Route, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Faced with Trump’s wavering support for NATO, Nordic nations stick together, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: U.S. must pay attention to growing China-Russia alliance in Arctic: expert, Alaska Public Media

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