ACE 23 air exercise will see around 150 aircraft
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.
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.
Approximately 3,000 soldiers and 150 aircraft from 14 different nations' armed forces will take part in the multinational Arctic Challenge Exercise 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.
Twelve Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighters and liaison and transport aircraft will operate in the exercise. Flying will be conducted from Monday to Friday in two daily waves from 9 am to 6 pm Finland time (from 8 to 5 Norway and Sweden time). The ACE 23 host bases are located at Rovaniemi and Pirkkala in Finland, Luleå in Sweden and Ørland in Norway.
The missions will mainly be carried out in the areas extending over the northern regions of Finland, Norway and Sweden. In Finland flight activities will also be conducted in the training areas bordering on Sodankylä and Kajaani as well as Tampere, Oulu and Vaasa. Exercise air operations will take place over the sea area between Vaasa and Pori.
‒ 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.
The objective of the exercise is to strengthen the ability to conduct combat operations together in large multinational air operations (COMAO) safely and effectively. This enables to improve the air combat methods and tactics between dissimilar aircraft types. The use of the Cross Border Training (CBT) concept facilitates to develop interoperability, the provision of host nation support and the receipt of international assistance.
The Arctic Challenge Exercises organised since 2013 form part of the NORDEFCO cooperation between Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The nations’ Air Forces regularly carry out combined air combat related CBT waves operated from their home bases. The cost-effective implementation pattern of combined exercises can also be applied to large air operations exercises, such as ACE.
Conscripts serving at Rovaniemi and Pirkkala Air Bases will participate in the exercise fulfilling their normal daily duties. During the ACE 23 exercise, fighters will deploy countermeasures such as flares and chaff which may cause echoes on weather radar.
For further information, please contact Exercise Director Colonel Henrik Elo, Deputy Chief of Staff Air Force Command Finland, tel. +358 299 800 (operator).
Updated 5 May 2023: correction (participating aircraft)