Arctic Challenge Exercise 2023

Arctic Challenge Exercise, Europe’s biggest exercise this year

About 150 aircrafts is expected to participate when ACE (Arctic Challenge Exercise) takes to the skies in the end of this month over the Nordic region.

– This is the biggest and best exercise for us and our allied air forces, says colonel Martin Tesli at Ørland Airbase, which is one of four host bases.

Every second year this exercise is being held in this region. This exercise has it`s outspring from NORDEFCO (Nordic Defence Cooperation) and from that the cooperation called Cross Border Training (CBT), which started back in 2008. The initiative was then taken to allow Sweden, Norway and Finland to have joint exercises in these countries airspace, without necessarily having to deploy out of their own bases. This initiative grew into a bi-annual exercise called Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE)

 - The airspace that we can use for this exercise, is without comparison in the world. One thing is the size, another is the lack of civilian traffic in the area, and furthermore accesses to live-firing ranges. It is truly unique and gives us a perfect occasion for to exercise together with some of our closes allies in what I would claim is one of the best exercises for air operations in the world, says Tesli.

This year’s participants include 13 nations, as well as NATO AWACS-planes. In total, the exercise will be operated out of four bases: Ørland in Norway, Kallax in Sweden, and Rovaniemi and Pirkkala in Finland.

Approximately 2700 personnel and over 150 aircrafts will be participating.

- Although there is several NATO-members joining this exercise, this is not a NATO-exercise, and its important for me to underline that this is a long time planned activity, which has nothing to do with the situation in Europe, says the commander.

- 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, from the Finnish Air Force, who is one of the exercise commanders.

The objective of the exercise is to strengthen the ability to conduct combat operations together in large multinational air operations safely and effectively. This enables to improve the air combat methods and tactics between dissimilar aircraft types. The use of the Cross Border Training concept facilitates to develop interoperability, the provision of host nation support and the receipt of international assistance. 

ACE will take place during week 22 and 23, during the exercise there’s planned for two flight periods a day.

The missions will mainly be carried out in the areas extending over the northern regions of Finland, Norway and Sweden.

This year’s execution of ACE will also mark the first big European exercise for the fighter jets F-35 Lightning II. These fifth generation fighter jets will participate from Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and USA, as well as the Norwegian jets.

- With several allies now getting operational with their F-35s it is great to se that we can getter so many for this event. This is truly a testimony for all the hard world being done within the different nations getting operational with the F-35s, and we are really looking forward to having the opportunity now the integrate ourselves, so we can operate together if needed, declares the colonel.

ACE will take place during week 22 and 23 with a planned media day set for the 31st of May in Norway and Finland, and 30th of May in Sweden.

Media event

31st of May:

For media requests

Sigurd Tonning-Olsen
+47 488 65 018
[email protected]