Arctic Challenge Exercise 2023

The Arctic Challenge Exercise from 29 May to 9 June is one of the Europe's largest live air exercises. The exercise will be led by Finland.

Approximately 150 aircrafts will be joining the exercise. There will be participation from 14 countries, as well as NATO. It is specified that this is not a NATO exercise, but is hosted by Finland, Sweden and Norway. Apart from the host nations, the exercise will involve participants from the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and the United States, and NATO with its AWACS aircraft. Among these participating countries there is calculated to be about 2700 personnel. Norway will partake in the exercise with F-35 Lightning II and NASAMS III.

In total, the exercise will be operated out of four bases: Ørland in Norway, Kallax in Sweden, and Rovaniemi and Pirkkala in Finland. 

At Ørland Air Station, the Norwegian base of the operation, there is expected personnel from Norway, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, USA, Czech Republic and NATO.

The exercise is commanded by Colonel Henrik Elo, Deputy Chief of Staff Air Force Command Finland. The Deputy Exercise Directors are Colonel Carl-Fredrik Edström of the Swedish Air Force and Colonel Andreas Johansen of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. 

‒ The Arctic Challenge Exercise is now well established as a Nordic exercise concept that, in its current form, provides an opportunity for participating units to develop cooperation between the 4th and 5th generation fighters and sophisticated GBAD systems. The training area is large enough to perform training of tactically challenging scenarios with a large number of aircraft. The ACE 23 exercise gives a valuable experience for the Finnish Air Force in the planning, command and control and implementation of large-scale air operations, says Colonel Henrik Elo.

This major Nordic exercise started as a collaboration called Cross Border Training and is dated back to 2008. The purpose was for the three Nordic nations to practice together, and across their countries’ borders. Since then the exercise has grown to include even more allied nations. It is a unique opportunity for nations to be practicing across larger training areas and with other aircrafts. 

ACE is a part of Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO), which is joint training between Finland, Norway and Sweden.

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