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Ruska 21 to involve 50 aircraft and 3,300 personnel

Air Force
Publication date 21.9.2021 11.00
Press release
F/A-18 Hornet
F/A-18 Hornet. Photo: Finnish Air Force / Minna Pyykönen.

The Finnish Air Force will conduct the Ruska 21 air operations exercise on 4‒9 October 2021. Fifty aircraft and around 3,300 personnel will take part in the service’s main exercise at different locations across Finland. The Swedish Air Force will also participate in Ruska 21.

Ruska 21 is the most significant exercise of the Air Force in 2021. It aims to sustain and develop the readiness of Finland’s air defence. All Air Force units will participate in the event that can be seen and heard nearly all over the country. This year, the Ruska exercise will primarily concentrate on training reservists, active duty personnel and conscripts of Karelia and Satakunta Air Commands.

In total, Ruska 21 will involve around 3,300 personnel, including 1,500 reservists. The participating aircraft will be assigned to either perform air defence tasks or emulate an adversary.  As per the Air Force's mobile operational concept, the aircraft will operate out of several aerodromes across the country.

‒ The Finnish Air Force monitors and secures Finland’s airspace 24/7 throughout the year. Ruska 21 enables active duty personnel, reservists and conscripts to train their emergency conditions tasks in practice. Exercises such as Ruska that include all the elements of an air operation maintain and enhance the Air Force’s readiness to execute demanding flight operations by taking advantage of the large base network. These exercises are teamwork, emphasizes Exercise Director, Colonel Timo Herranen.

Ruska 21 is part of the Finnish-Swedish defence cooperation. The Swedish Air Force will deploy JAS 39C/D Gripen multi-role fighters and an Argus airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to the exercise. The Swedish detachments will fly from the air bases of Pirkkala and Luleå, Sweden.

Around 50 aircraft will participate in the exercise; the majority of them being F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters. In addition to the F/A-18s, participating aircraft include Hawk jet trainers, Air Force transport and liaison aircraft, an Army NH90 transport helicopter and a Border Guard Dornier Do 228 patrol aircraft. Ground-based air defence (GBAD) units will operate at the Pirkkala Air Base and Lohtaja training area.

Ruska 21 air operations will include flight missions at low altitudes, and supersonic flying at 10-kilometre altitude above the mainland. Noise abatement procedures are followed in the vicinity of the air bases, whenever feasible. The aircraft will deploy countermeasures such as chaff and flares. Chaff may cause false echoes on weather radar, and flares may be seen as momentary bright spots of light in the sky. 

The main bases for the forces training air defence tasks will be Rissala and Pirkkala. The F/A-18s of the defending unit will also fly from the Savonlinna, Varkaus, Kokkola-Pietarsaari, Seinäjoki and Kajaani airports as well as the Vieremä road base, following the Air Force's mobile operational concept. The Air Force transport and liaison aircraft will operate also from Pori during the exercise. The aircraft emulating the adversary will fly from Rovaniemi, Oulu and Luleå, Sweden.

Ruska 21 flight operations will begin on 4 October at noon, and end on 9 October by 3 pm. On Monday and Tuesday, 4 to 5 October, missions will be completed by 10 pm. From Wednesday to Saturday, 6 to 9 October, flight operations will be conducted around the clock. 

Follow the Ruska 21 exercise via Finnish Air Force social media! #ruska21 #ilmavoimat