US F-35s & F-16s fly into Finland to join exercise Astral Knight 23

Watch: Watch as US F-16s and Finnish F-18s refuel side by side on Ex Astral Knight 23

US Air Force F-35s & F-16s have arrived in Finland to integrate with Arctic and Baltic Allies in exercise Astral Knight 23. 

The exercise is designed to test the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept, the aim of which is to enable Allied Forces to operate from a greater number of locations to provide increased flexibility and resilience. 

Lieutenant General John D. Lamontagne, Deputy Commander United States Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said: "Astral Knight (AK) will continue to strengthen Ally and Partner interoperability while validating new ways to deploy and maneuver assets during a crisis or conflict. 

"Regular exercises, like AK, and our permanent forward presence are essential to projecting a credible deterrence to any future act of aggression against the alliance."   

This iteration of Astral Knight 23, taking place at Rovaniemi Air Base, Finland, is the culminating piece to a larger, overarching exercise that began in May 2023. 

The exercise will enhance the Finnish Air Force's ability to offer and execute Host Nation Support (HNS) and develop cooperation and interoperability with its allies.

Astral Knight 23 enabled US, Lithuanian and Finnish aircrew to enhance command and control procedures while improving logistics with Allies and partners in the Arctic and Baltic regions through multinational inter-flying formations and ground operations. 

Captain Mandy Olguin, 37th AS C-130J Super Hercules weapons officer, said: "Airlift is essential when personnel and cargo are required to be at a new location on a shorter timeline than it would take to move by ground. 

"It is important to constantly validate our assumptions in the ACE scheme of manoeuvre because these processes can rapidly change.

"It is important to understand where our limitations are in order to manoeuvre more efficiently if directed to execute ACE in a real-world scenario." 

Related topics

Join Our Newsletter


Ukrainian firm shows how its drones are being armed against Russia

Ukraine's flat-pack cardboard drones destroying Russian jets

Army v RAF LIVE! | Inter Services men’s rugby league 2023