Air units from the United States, Norway, Sweden, and Finland kicked off the Arctic Challenge Exercise 2021 on Monday, with the manoeuvres, set to run until next Friday, among the largest tactical air exercises of their kind in Europe. The drills are being held at bases in northern Scandinavia as little as 150 km from the Russian border.
The Arctic Challenge military exercises involving the United States are “provocative,” “do not establish any framework for mutual trust in Europe, and contradict [the] peaceful and sustainable development of the Arctic region,” the Russian Embassy in Washington tweeted Tuesday.
The drills, held on a biannual basis under the auspices of Nordic Defence Cooperation, include a contingent of 250 US Marines, ten F/A-18 Hornet multirole combat jets, as well as KC-130 tankers and transport aircraft.
The exercises are expected to involve a total of over 70 aircraft, and to practice patrols and combat drills by fighter jets, transport and refuelling tanker aircraft, as well as airborne early warning and control planes and search and rescue helicopters in the host countries. Along with the US, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK are involved in the drills, with NATO providing AWACS aircraft, ground crews and air defence units.
Among the bases where drills are taking place are Sweden’s Lulea, Norway’s Bodo and Orland, and Finland’s Rovaniemi, with the latter situated just over 150 km from the Russian border.
The drills come…