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Nordic Air Chiefs sign letter, develop Arctic Challenge

Nordic Air Chiefs sign letter, develop Arctic Challenge

From left, Swedish Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Mats Helgesson, Finnish Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Sampo Eskelinen, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa commander Gen. Tod D. Wolters, Royal Norwegian Air Force Maj. Gen. Tonje Skinnarland, Royal Danish Air Force Maj. Gen. Max A.L.T. Nielsen, sign a letter of intent, Oct. 16, 2017, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The letter signals participating countries’ intent to develop the Arctic Challenge Exercise into a European high-quality flag-level exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Hines)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Defense officials from four Nordic countries signed a letter of intent alongside Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa commander, Oct. 16, 2017, in a formal acknowledgment that opens doors to the development of a European flag-level exercise.

Signing officials included Nordic Air Chiefs from the Royal Danish Air Force, Finnish Defense Forces, Royal Norwegian Air Force and Swedish Armed Forces.

Last year, Nordic Defense ministers conversed on the possibilities of developing the Arctic Challenge Exercise, or ACE, into a full-spectrum air exercise that would include wider international participation and coordination.

Transitioning ACE into a high quality flag-level exercise seeks to parallel the success of other flag-designator exercises such as Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and Blue Flag at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Historically, flag-level exercises have provided vital, scenario-based training in realistic environments to best prepare fighters for enemy defensive systems. Bringing a European-based flag exercise will serve to amplify defense training and interoperability between countries across key High North and Baltic Sea regions.

The U.S. Air Force will support development by leveraging individual expertise and encouraging widest participation while guiding discussions about command and control, secure communications, information sharing, instrumented scoring and scenario development.

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