May 19, 2017, 9:59 AM
As part of the Nordic Defence Cooperation, Finland, Norway, and Sweden are joining forces for a large air exercise with help from the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and the US nuclear-capable B-52H bombers.
The exercise will feature multi-role fighters, electronic warfare aircraft, airborne warning and control system aircraft, and ground-based air defense “for the purposes of crisis management,” according to a statement from the Finnish Air Force.
The Scandinavian countries remain neutral militarily, but have seen their airspace and territorial waters regularly breached by Russian aircraft. Russia has also conducted mock nuclear strikes against Sweden.
The event promises to bring together some of the best platforms in Western aviation. US F/A-18s, F-16s, and F-15s with a variety of air forces will fly with Sweden’s domestically-built Gripen and France’s Dassault Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighters.
To top it off, a US nuclear-capable B-52H will make the long range trip to join the fighters and electronic attack craft near Russia’s border. Meanwhile, the US has send B-2 Spirit nuclear-capable stealth bombers to the UK.
As it stands, Russian forces in the region outnumber NATO and Scandinavian forces significantly, and Finland and Norway share about 900 miles of border with Russia.
The exercise runs from May 22 to June 2.