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Arctic Challenge Exercise Aims to Increase Interoperability

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel, 48th Fighter Wing DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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ROVANIEMI AIR BASE, Finland, May 24, 2017 — Twelve F-15C Eagles and approximately 200 personnel from the 493rd Fighter Squadron, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, and two KC-135 Stratotankers and over 30 personnel from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, England, deployed to bases in Finland and Sweden for Arctic Challenge 2017.

An F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath, England, receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker, May 19, 2017. The KC-135 is assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England. Both aircraft are on their way to support Arctic Challenge 2017, a multinational exercise encompassing 11 nations and more than 100 aircraft. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney
An F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath, England, receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker, May 19, 2017. The KC-135 is assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England. Both aircraft are supporting Arctic Challenge 2017, a multinational exercise encompassing 11 nations and more than 100 aircraft. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney
An F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath, England, receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker, May 19, 2017. The KC-135 is assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England. Both aircraft are on their way to support Arctic Challenge 2017, a multinational exercise encompassing 11 nations and more than 100 aircraft. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney Mildenhall and Lakenheath aircraft on way to Arctic Challenge
An F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath, England, receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker, May 19, 2017. The KC-135 is assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England. Both aircraft are supporting Arctic Challenge 2017, a multinational exercise encompassing 11 nations and more than 100 aircraft. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney

Multinational Exercise

Arctic Challenge, a multinational training exercise, began May 19 and runs to June 2.

The exercise aims at building relationships and increasing interoperability, and includes participants from the U.S., Finland, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and the Netherlands, as well as representatives from NATO.

Two F-15 Eagle aircraft from RAF Lakenheath, England, fly in formation next to the KC-135 Stratotanker they just refueled from May 19, 2017. The KC-135 is assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England. All three aircraft are on their way to support Arctic Challenge 2017, a multinational exercise encompassing 11 nations and more than 100 aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney)
Two F-15 Eagle aircraft from RAF Lakenheath, England, fly in formation next to the KC-135 Stratotanker from which they just refueled, May 19, 2017. The KC-135 is assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England. All three aircraft are supporting Arctic Challenge 2017, a multinational exercise encompassing 11 nations and more than 100 aircraft. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney
Two F-15 Eagle aircraft from RAF Lakenheath, England, fly in formation next to the KC-135 Stratotanker they just refueled from May 19, 2017. The KC-135 is assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England. All three aircraft are on their way to support Arctic Challenge 2017, a multinational exercise encompassing 11 nations and more than 100 aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney) Mildenhall and Lakenheath aircraft on way to Arctic Challenge
Two F-15 Eagle aircraft from RAF Lakenheath, England, fly in formation next to the KC-135 Stratotanker from which they just refueled, May 19, 2017. The KC-135 is assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England. All three aircraft are supporting Arctic Challenge 2017, a multinational exercise encompassing 11 nations and more than 100 aircraft. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney

Increase Interoperability

"The primary objective for us is to work together with our partner nations and allies to increase our interoperability capabilities as a force," said Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Zumwalt, 493rd FS commander.

Zumwalt added, "These practice opportunities and experiences allow our pilots and maintainers to work together side-by-side with our partners and allies to plan, execute and debrief some very complex missions. That allows us to see how we can better work together in the future."

Over the next two weeks, Arctic Challenge participants will conduct live-flying events to train on offensive and defensive air combat operations. They will practice evaluating aircraft, personnel and weapons capabilities, as well as mobilizing and training in multinational operations.

Working Together

"Being able to work closely, face-to-face, side-by-side, and coordinate our actions together to achieve a common goal provides excellent training for everyone involved,” Zumwalt said.

Through training exercises like Arctic Challenge, the U.S., allies and partner nations can build on their expertise in the air, creating a credible force prepared to effectively respond to any crisis together.