Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015: Norway as the Lead Nation


2015-04-11  According to a story on the Norwegian Ministry of Defence website published on 4/8/15:

In 2015 one of Europe’s largest fighter jet exercise is to take place in the Nordic countries, with Norway as lead nation.

Norwegian F16s taxiing for take off. Credit: Norwegian MOD.
Norwegian F16s taxiing for take off. Credit: Norwegian MOD.

Norway is lead nation as nearly a hundred fighter jets from nine nations gather for a joint training exercise from 25 May to 5 June. 

Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015 (ACE 2015) evolved from a Swedish exercise, Nordic Air Meet, and cross border training between the Nordic neighbours Sweden and Finland, back in 2009. The training exercise will take place in the High North, with the activity being divided between Bodø in Norway, Rovaniemi in Finland, and Kallax in Sweden. 

“This is the second time the multinational training exercise is carried out, the first being in 2013. The plan forward is to continue every other year. Even though Norway, Sweden and Finland are the host nations, all of the participating countries contribute to the planning, which helps build our national and allied capability to lead air operations,” says Brigadier Jan Ove Rygg, head of RNoAF’s National Air Operations Center (NAOC), and ACE 2015 exercise director.

“The aim is to exercise and train units in the orchestration and conduct of complex air operations, in close relations to NATO and Protection for Peace partners. The unique cross border air space makes ACE 2015 a one of a kind training ground for increasing interoperability and skills in all parts of the chain.”

Colorful Jet Stream

“We are getting great operational take-backs with such large scenarios and tactical training,” says Major Trond Ertsgaard at Bodø Main Air Station. 

Together with neighbors, allies and NAOC, he is now fully focused on planning the substantial exercise.

In addition to the well-known F-16, Nordic air space will be filled with F-18, Hawk T1, Tornado GR4, Mirage 2000, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Jas 39 Gripen, among others. Furthermore, a number of NATO AWACS jets, transportation jets and tankers, and DA-20 Jet Falcons will all have supporting roles.

Large Operational Are​as

The exercise consists of a wide range of scenario drills and cooperation between the three host bases, with large operational areas available both in Norway and surrounding the other main bases.

“There is going to be two flight periods per day. The first one will focus on training with units stationed at the same base, with flights taking place in the surrounding air space,” Ertsgaard explains.

This includes everything from weapon delivery, both against grounded and airborne targets, and combating simulated anti-air artillery, to low-level flying and mid-air refueling.

“The second period comprises of composite air operations where all aircrafts meet, mainly in Swedish air space, for a vast setup.”

Editor’s Note: Norway will transition from an F-16 to an all-F35 fleet. 

They will receive their first F-35 this Fall and will train initially at Luke AFB. 

Their planes have been modified with chutes to enhance their ability to operate in difficult winter conditions.