Arctic Challenge Exercise 2017 will soon be underway in Finland,Norway and Sweden.From 22 May to 2 June 2017,more than 100 aircraft and thousands of troops will stage the drills,which are held every two years.The core bases for the war games are Bodo,Norway;Lulea,Sweden;and Rovaniemi,Finland.This third iteration of the exercise is a project of the Nordic Defence Cooperation organisation (NORDEFCO).It aims to improve the capability of multinational forces to participate in combined air operations for the purpose of crisis management.ACE 17 will facilitate training for large-scale planning and implementation of air operations in an authentic operating environment,involving a wide range of aircraft and forces of modern air warfighting.*
Besides the three host nations,air forces from NATO Allies the Netherlands;Belgium;UK;Canada;France;Germany;and US will participate,along with Switzerland.They will send the following types of aircraft:multi-role fighters;transport and liaison;aerial refuelling tankers;EW aircraft;AWACS;transport and SAR helicopters,accompanied by ground troops and ground-based air defence units.*
Norway is the only country that is currently both a NATO ally and NORDEFCO member.*
For the first time,US Air Force Global Strike Command B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers will take part in the drills.They will be part of a single mission at the end of ACE 17 and will not land at the Nordic bases.As well,some of the exercise aircraft will be deployed from their home bases beyond the actual training area.It is also notable that the aircraft types and numbers are subject to change.*
The exercise points up the growing closeness of NATO and NORDEFCO.It also highlights the increasing significance of the Arctic.