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Exercise Arctic Challenge

RAF Typhoons, a Voyager and a team of surface-to-air missile specialists have deployed to Sweden for a large Arctic exercise spanning Sweden, Finland and Norway with 150 aircraft from 14 different nations.

This complex multinational exercise, known as Arctic Challenge aims to strengthen the participants’ national defence; increase operational effectiveness; improve resource allocation and identify efficiencies through increased cooperation. 

The biennial Nordic cooperation exercise is led by Finland with support from Sweden and Norway. This year, the exercise will also deepen the international cooperation with partners in the High North region as part of the UK government’s increased focus on maintaining safety and security in the region.

The 2-week exercise will involve aircraft from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Czech, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and NATO.

Six Typhoon jets from 11 Squadron at RAF Coningsby and a Voyager from RAF Brize Norton will operate from Kallax airbase in northern Sweden. The Typhoons will undertake a variety of missions alongside and against jets from the participating nations. 

To extend the duration and the range of these missions an RAF Voyager; a US KC-135 and a Canadian CC150TT will provide air-to-air refuelling. A team from NATO’s Airborne Early Warning and Control Force will fly an E-3A to co-ordinate the aircraft exercise from the air.

To add realism to the exercise, a team from RAF Spadeadam have deployed to the Swedish training area with a selection of surface-to-air missile systems that have been driven across for the exercise. The team have an SA6 tracked vehicle and a 6-wheeled amphibious vehicle know as an SA8 to track and target the fighter jets in the scenario.

The mobile missile systems will provide a simulated adversary ground-based air defence network and provide data on the aircrafts ability to detect and target the systems. After each flight, the pilots will undertake a thorough debrief to review the tactical successes and share details of what they learnt.

Prior to the exercise, the detachment commander, Wing Commander Mark Robertson said:

It’s always a pleasure to deploy with such a highly trained and diverse team of RAF personnel. This large, complex, multinational exercise offers an excellent opportunity for high quality training with a range of partners. Working with our Joint Expeditionary Force partners is important to develop interoperability and ensure that we are fully prepared to defend against any threats. The RAF personnel under my command, bring a wealth of operational experience and battle winning capabilities.