The Air Force Exercise 2019 started on March 22 from air bases in the northern part of Sweden and Finland where a lot of snow, wind, and cold weather have been in attendance.
At the Rovaniemi air base in Finland, Swedish Gripens and Finnish F-18 Hornets, supported by jamming aircraft from Saab, are carrying out attacks against northern Sweden. But what is interesting is that another squadron of F-18 Hornet, based temporarily at the Kallax Air Base, has been deployed to support the Swedish air defence.
The Swedish and the Finnish Air Forces have conducted multiple joint exercises in the past. The first time Finland participated in the Air Force Exercise was in 2016 where they acted as qualified opponents. This year, Sweden is playing most of the aggressors’ roles. The goal of such exercises is to develop interoperability and cooperation between the two countries.
Colonel Lars Helmrich, Head of Skaraborg's aircraft fleet, and the Swedish contingent in Finland, stresses on the importance of careful planning during bilateral exercises like these. “When we get an order to attack, we know it must be carefully planned, so that we train amidst the right attack effect, and can carry out the missions in a safe manner,” he says.
“The Swedish and the Finnish aircraft have different capabilities. Whether we are attacking or defending, it is important that we utilize each other's strengths in the best possible way. Also, when multiple fighters and jamming aircraft are participating in a training mission, the coordination between all of them should be perfect,” he adds.
The Air Force Exercise 2019 ends today.
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Photo courtesy: The Swedish Armed Forces