Spangdahlem F-16s Deploy to Sweden for Arctic Exercise

More than 300 Airmen, along with U.S. Air Force F-16s from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed to Sweden for a large exercise alongside six other nations.

Arctic Challenge Exercise 2021 kicked off June 2 at Kallax Air Base, Sweden, and is scheduled to run for more than two weeks. The Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing join personnel and aircraft from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom for the exercise.

The exercise began in 2013 and has rotated between Sweden, Norway, and Finland, according to a 52nd Fighter Wing release.

“The end goal of this exercise is to get good integration both with our Nordic allies and our NATO allies,” said Capt. Scott Pippen, 480th Fighter Squadron lead project officer for ACE21, in the release. “We aim to get our 52nd FW pilots better experience in multiple different mission sets and in a larger scale engagement.”

The exercise will include joint operations and air defense training, including air-to-ground strike and close air support, defensive counter air, and suppression of enemy air defenses, according to the release.

“It has been a good experience working with our American partners so far,” said Swedish air force Maj. Daniel Jannerstad, lead ACE21 planner for the Swedish, in the release. “I would like this to be a good learning opportunity and to fulfill all of the objectives of the exercise according to plan.”

The Air Force is increasing its focus on the Arctic as the region grows in strategic significance. The Department of the Air Force last summer released its first-ever Arctic Strategy.

“Given the Arctic’s vast distances and challenges to surface operations, air and space capabilities have long been essential to gain rapid access and provide all-domain awareness, early warning, satellite command and control, and effective deterrence,” the strategy states. “Offering a solid foundation on which to build and project power across the region, the Department of the Air Force is the most active and invested U.S. military department in the Arctic.”