A pilot from C-130J Hercules 47 Squadron, based a Brize Norton, performing a low-level sortie over Northern Sweden
RAF

'ACE': RAF Take On One Of Europe's Largest Air Exercises

Aircraft and personnel are in Sweden for the Arctic Challenge Exercise.

A pilot from C-130J Hercules 47 Squadron, based a Brize Norton, performing a low-level sortie over Northern Sweden

A pilot from C-130J Hercules 47 Squadron, based a Brize Norton, performing a low-level sortie over Northern Sweden (Picture: MOD).

Royal Air Force aircraft and personnel are training alongside eight other nations in Sweden to work together in building collective security.

At Luleå-Kallax Air Base in Sweden, Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE) is one of Europe’s largest air force exercises.

One hundred and forty aircraft and 4,000 personnel from the UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and USA, supported by NATO assets, are taking part in the exercise.

RAF is contributing 155 personnel and seven aircraft to the exercise 040619 CREDIT MOD.jpg
The RAF contributed 155 personnel and seven aircraft to the exercise (Picture: MOD).

Between 22 May and 4 June, the nine countries tested their skills and effectiveness in a realistic threat environment.

"It is interesting seeing how the Swedish work compared to us. They have been really helpful in hosting us and everyone seems to be working really well together," said Corporal Tania Barr, Logistics Mover from RAF Lossiemouth.

The RAF contributed 155 personnel from 14 RAF stations to support its seven aircraft on the exercise.

This includes five Typhoon fast-jets, one Hercules tactical transport aircraft and one Voyager transport aircraft.

Each day for the duration of the exercise, 100 aircraft flew simultaneously in the area which extends across the airspaces of Sweden, Finland and Norway.

The pilots from each nation took part in simulated scenarios to practice their combat air skills, alternating between playing the role of enemy or ally.

RAF Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 taking off at Lulea-Kallax airport 040619 CREDIT MOD.jpg
A RAF Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 taking off at Lulea-Kallax airport (Picture: MOD).

The RAF’s Typhoons flew alongside Swedish Gripens, F-18s from Finland and the US, F-16s from Norway, Denmark and the US, and the Rafale and Mirage from France.

"It is good fun to see what we can do against each other and how differently we like to fly," said Flight Lieutenant Craig Allison.

"Getting to 'fight' against a Swedish Gripen jet has been my favourite moment."

Exercise Arctic Challenge is one of Europe’s largest air force exercises with 140 aircraft and 4000 troops 040619 CREDIT MOD
Exercise Arctic Challenge is one of Europe’s largest air force exercises with 140 aircraft and 4000 troops (Picture: MOD).

By taking part in the exercise, the nine participating air forces shared knowledge and learn from each other to strengthen their interoperability.

Personnel were tested in various disciplines including threat evasion tactics such as low-level flying, aerial resupply to friendly forces, search and rescue and air-to-air refuelling.

RAF Personnel talk with a member of the Swedish Air Force 040619 CREDIT MOD.jpg
RAF Personnel talk with a member of the Swedish Air Force about the exercise during a visit to groundbase air defence crews from RAF Spadeadam working at Gällivare with SA-8 'Gecko' equipment behind (Picture: MOD).

On 27 May, British and American personnel were welcomed to Sweden with a visit to Luleå-Kallax air base from Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Sweden, who met with personnel and took a tour of the British, Swedish and American fast jets.

"ACE 19 is an opportunity for us to train with our allies to improve our interoperability and ensure we’re capable of contributing to the collective security of Europe and NATO," said the UK Wing Commander Matt D’Aubyn.

Arctic Challenge Exercise is hosted between the air forces of Sweden, Finland and Norway and this year was led by the Swedish Air Force.