Arctic Exercise Challenge returns with important geopolitical stakes

USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier
USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier Copyright Javad Parsa/NTB Scanpix via AP
By Euronews with EVN
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The Arctic Challenge Exercise is back for its sixth edition. Hosted by Finland, Norway and Sweden, the ACE is one of Europe's largest live air exercises. Approximately 150 different aircraft will be joining the exercise.

What to expect of ACE 23?

Allies Finland and Norway and Partner Sweden will host the multinational Arctic Challenge Exercise from 29 May to 9 June 2023.


While this is not a NATO event, the alliance will be participating along with 14 different countries. The ACE was launched in 2013 and is held every second year.

The exercise will involve participants from the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and the United States, and NATO with its AWACS aircraft. 

Some 2,700 personnel are expected to participate. Norway will partake in the exercise with its F-35 Lightning II and NASAMS III.

In total, the exercises will be conducted from four bases: Ørland in Norway, Kallax in Sweden as well as Rovaniemi and Pirkkala in Finland.

ACE 23 is also an opportunity to train cooperation and interoperability between 4th and 5th-generation fighters. This year, the exercise will also deepen international cooperation between partners in the air domain in the High North.

This year's edition is deemed by organisers as especially important as the Russian war in Ukraine rages on.

What is the Artic Challenge Exercise?

The ACE is part of the NORDEFCO cooperation between Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. This major Nordic exercise started as a collaboration launched in 2008 called Cross Border Training. 

The Nordic nations Air Forces regularly carry out combined air combat-related Cross Border Training operated from their home bases. The purpose was for the Nordic nations to practice together and across their countries' borders.

 Since then, the exercise has grown to include even more allied nations. It is a unique opportunity for nations to practise across larger training areas and with other aircraft.

The US aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, arrived in Oslo last week, becoming the US Navy's latest warship, the first US flattop, to visit Norway in over six decades. 

While it has not been confirmed, there have been rumours that the carrier will be heading north to participate in some types of training exercises with its Norwegian and possibly other NATO partners.


The USS Gerald R. Ford is the largest warship ever built. It carries a crew of 4,500 Americans along with 75 fighter jets and more than a dozen helicopters and other attack vessels. 

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