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Ruska 20 to involve more than 60 aircraft and 4,800 personnel

Air Force
Publication date 17.9.2020 9.30
Press release
F/A-18 Hornet.
F/A-18 Hornet at Rovaniemi Air Base. Photo: Finnish Air Force / Minna Pyykönen.

The Finnish Air Force will conduct the Ruska 20 air operations exercise from 28 September to 6 October 2020. More than 60 aircraft and around 4,800 personnel will take part in the service’s major exercise. The Swedish Air Force will also participate in Ruska 20.

Ruska 20 is the largest exercise of the Finnish Air Force in 2020. The objective of the annual Ruska exercises is to enhance the readiness of the Air Force, and provide training for active-duty personnel, conscripts and reservists. The exercise can be seen and heard nearly all over the country - from Rovaniemi to Jyväskylä and from Kajaani to Vaasa. 

In total, Ruska 20 will involve around 4,800 personnel, including 2,500 reservists. The participating units will be assigned to either perform air defence tasks or act as the adversary. The scenario evolves in real time through the entire exercise, meaning that air operations can be carried out around the clock. 

‒ Ruska 20 will demonstrate the high readiness of the Air Force in protecting the integrity of Finnish airspace, and securing the functions vital to our society on a 24/7 basis in all situations. Active-duty personnel, conscripts and reservists operate in their emergency conditions’ tasks as per the Air Force’s mobile battle concept, says Exercise Director, Colonel Juha-Pekka Keränen.

‒ During the exercise, we will observe the national, regional and local COVID-19 restrictions. The Finnish Air Force follows the development of the COVID-19 situation, and we are prepared to modify the arrangements of the exercise at a short notice, if necessary. Live exercises such as Ruska are important for maintaining our troops’ skills and readiness in all situations. The health and safety of the troops is our first priority, and we will conduct the exercise as required by the circumstances, Keränen emphasises. 

More than 60 aircraft are due to fly in the exercise at its peak, the majority of them being F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters. Ruska 20 is a part of the Finnish-Swedish defence cooperation. Thus, Swedish Air Force JAS 39C/D Gripen multi-role fighters, along with an Argus airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, will also take part in the exercise. The Swedish aircraft will operate mainly from the bases of Rovaniemi and Luleå, Sweden.

The bases in Rovaniemi, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Kajaani and Halli will be used throughout the entire exercise. There will be troops engaged in the exercise in the vicinity of the bases, and areas designated for exercise activities are subjected to movement restrictions. The most intensive phase of the exercise will be from 2 to 6 October when the aircraft will operate also from Kuopio, Seinäjoki, Kokkola-Pietarsaari, Vaasa, Pudasjärvi and Kuusamo airfields.

Ruska 20 will feature low-level flight missions, and supersonic F/A-18 Hornet flights at no less than 10-kilometre altitude above the mainland. The aircraft will also deploy countermeasures such as flares and chaff. Flares may be seen briefly as bright spots of light in the sky, and chaff may cause echoes on weather radar. The exercise air operations will begin on 28 September at noon, and end on 6 October by 6 pm.

Follow the #Ruska20 exercise via Finnish Air Force social media:

Reservist - attend the exercise only when healthy!

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Finnish Defence Forces has made changes in the training and exercise arrangements of active-duty personnel, conscripts and reservist in the current year. These adjustments enable maintaining readiness and achieving training objectives. 

The Ruska 20 exercise will observe the recommendations by the Government and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare on hand hygiene, cough etiquette and maintaining safe distances. The exercise implementation will also account for the Finnish Defence Forces’ national, regional and local restrictions relating to the COVID-19 epidemic. The Finnish Air Force follows the development of the COVID-19 situation, and is prepared to modify the arrangements of the exercise at a short notice, if necessary.

Guidance for reservists ordered to take part in the Ruska 20 exercise:

  • Do not attend the exercise while ill!
  • If you arrive at the exercise by public transport, please follow the face mask recommendation by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
  • The Finnish Defence Forces will provide reservists with face masks. You can also take your own protective gear with you to the exercise.
  • The Finnish Defence Forces recommends that you install the Koronavilkku app to your personal mobile device.
  • Contact your Defence Forces Regional Office, if:
    • you feel ill before the beginning of the exercise.
    • you belong to a COVID-19 risk group.
    • a family member of your household has symptoms of upper respiratory infection, and there is no negative COVID-19 PCR test result.
    • you have travelled abroad to a country with travel restrictions 14 days before the beginning of the exercise.