by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
5/26/2015 - KALLAX AIR BASE, Sweden -- More
than 150 Airmen and 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 31st Fighter Wing
at Aviano Air Base, at the invitation of the government of Sweden,
arrived at Norbotten Wing here in support of Arctic Challenge Exercise
This year, the multinational flying exercise will include approximately
115 combat aircraft from nine different countries including the U.S.,
Finland, Sweden and Norway. The Arctic Challenge exercise will focus on
improving interoperability with fellow air forces to prepare for any
possible future challenges.
"The aim of ACE 15 is to provide a safe exercise with a large and
unrestricted training area and demanding scenario," said Col. Carl-Johan
Edstrom, Norbotten Wing deputy exercise director. "This will give
participating units an extraordinary opportunity to plan, execute and
evaluate large force employments in a multinational air operation."
The exercise, larger than the first which took place in 2013, will
operate over the skies of Finland, Norway and Sweden and as many as 90
aircraft will fly simultaneously. The exercise will allow for prompt
responses on how to improve practices particularly in a multinational
"The biggest and most important part of participating in ACE 15 is the
interoperability with the different allied nations and partners," said
Maj. Brian Kellam, 510th Fighter Squadron chief of advance programs and
fighter pilot. "Knowing each other's tactics is essential, so when a
real situation arises, we are familiar with how each country operates;
the familiarity will lead to better proficiency in our missions."
The 510 FS "Buzzards" hope to maintain their joint readiness and
strengthen their European relationships by conducting close air support
operations, air interdiction and defensive counter air scenarios during
the exercise. According to Kellam, experiencing this type of large
force exercise will prepare them by testing their management while
"Typically we fly with maybe six to eight maximum aircraft daily," said
Kellam. "The exposure to operating with 90 aircraft at the same time
will pay big dividends [for everyone], especially our young pilots."
Throughout the duration of the exercise, U.S., NATO and Partners for
Peace militaries will work in a joint environment to deliver unified
responses for simulated contingencies. ACE 15 is scheduled to continue
until June 5, before concluding with its final air operations.