NATO holds Nordic exercises involving 150 aircraft from 14 nations

French Mirage fighter jet. (NATO Allied Command)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

Large-scale NATO exercises involving some 150 fighter jets from Western countries began on Monday across Finland, Sweden and Norway, the Finnish Air Force announced.

Organized every two years by the Nordic countries since 2013, this year’s Arctic Challenge Exercises has brought together 14 countries including the United States, Britain, and France.

The exercises are expected to last in these three countries — two of which border Russia — for almost two weeks, according to Finland, NATO’s newest member, which is leading the “Arctic Challenge” operation.

“The exercises have started. Our first rotation is underway,” Colonel Henrik Elo of the Finnish Air Force told AFP. “This is the biggest exercise so far,” he stressed.

The Nordic country ended decades of military neutrality and non-alignment after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine by joining NATO in early April. Sweden, for its part, hopes to become a full NATO member by the time the North Atlantic Alliance summit takes place in Vilnius this July.

In addition to the 12 participating NATO countries, this year’s Arctic Challenge Exercises also include Sweden and Switzerland. U.S. F-35s and aircraft from several European countries, including French Rafale and Mirage, Danish and Dutch F-16s, Finnish and Swiss F-18s, and Swedish Gripens, are taking part in the exercises, which will end on June 9.

The aircraft will be stationed in northern Norway and Sweden, as well as at the Finnish air base at Pirkkala-Tampere.

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