Arctic Challenge Exercise 2021 kicks off

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ali Stewart
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Over 300 U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed to Kallax Air Base, Sweden, 19 May, in support of the Arctic Challenge Exercise 2021 scheduled to take place June 2-18.

This year, the Norwegian-led exercise will garner participants from the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem AB, Germany, Norbotten Wing at Kallax AB, Sweden, as well as units from Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Training with allies and regional partners in the Nordic region enhances flexibility and interoperability among ally and partner nations in the interest of strengthening the combined response capabilities and demonstrating international resolve.

The first ever Arctic Challenge Exercise occurred in 2013 and was led by Sweden, alongside five other nations and NATO E-3 Sentry aircraft. The exercises have since rotated host nations between Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

“We arrived at Kallax AB two weeks ago,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Scott Pippin, 480th Fighter Squadron lead project officer for ACE21. “We have been executing local flying operations, integrating with the Swedish, and we will be flying local sorties with different partner nations.”

It is important to conduct exercises like ACE21 and to have highly developed capabilities, as well as a high level of training for air operations. Cooperating with the Nordic countries during these types of exercises provides a cost-effective and high quality opportunity to improve national capabilities and interoperability with other nations.

“It has been a good experience working with our American partners so far,” said Swedish air force Maj. Daniel Jannerstad, lead ACE21 planner for the Swedish. “I would like this to be a good learning opportunity, and to fulfill all of the objectives of the exercise according to plan.”

During the exercise, F-16's from Spangdahlem AB will conduct a multitude of joint operations and air defense training, including suppression of enemy air defenses, air to ground strike missions, defensive counter-air and close air support.

“The end goal of this exercise is to get good integration both with our Nordic allies and our NATO allies,” Pippin said. “We aim to get our 52nd FW pilots better experience in multiple different mission sets and in a larger scale engagement.”