American and Finnish Air Forces Train Together in the High North

Amerikanske F-15E under Arctic Challenge Exercise
In early summer, the US participated in the major Nordic fighter exercise Arctic Challenge Exercise, which partly took place from air stations in Rovaniemi and Pirkkala, Finland. Here are American F-15E fighters in action during the exercise. This week, Rovaniemi will also be the base American fighters of the F-15 type, among others. (Photo: Gaspar Cortez/the US Air Force)

This week, American and Finnish air forces are co-training in Lapland, Northern Finland. The aim is to strengthen the Finnish Air Force's ability to provide host nation support and develop interoperability with NATO allies.

Norwegian version.

US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and the Finnish Air Force are carrying out training activities in Northern Finland from Monday to Friday this week.

USAFE participates with F-16 fighters, a KC-135 tanker, and C-130 transport aircraft – and will operate out of Rovaniemi Air Base. The Finns are participating with F/A-18 Hornet fighters. 

"The aim of the training event is to enhance the Finnish Air Force’s ability to offer and execute Host Nation Support and to develop cooperation and interoperability with its allies. The air activities will take place in Northern Finland," writes the Finnish Air Force in a press release.

This is called an Astral Knight training event. Astral Knight is a framework for exercise and training for integrated air and missile defense led by the USAFE.

Possible interest for Rovaniemi

At the same time as Finland is working to adapt to NATO, negotiations continue with the US on a bilateral agreement on defense cooperation – similar to the Norwegian-American one that entered into force last year.

The negotiations may potentially lead to military bases in Finland becoming Finnish-American "agreed areas."

In that context, the US may be interested in access to and use of Rovaniemi Air Base, according to Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. 

Amerikansk marinekorps på Rovaniemi flystasjon
American marine soldiers carried out a so-called HIRAIN operation at Rovaniemi Air Base at the end of May. This involves the rapid deployment of HIMARS – an American high-mobility artillery rocket system with long-range precision fire. (Photo: Eric Dmochowski/US Marine Corps)

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.