Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 and F-16 fighter aircraft and the USS Arleigh Burke destroyer participated in the mulit-domain exercise that also involved Allied control and a ISR elements on August 18, 2021. Photos courtesy Royal Norwegian Air Force.
A NATO E-3A AWACS provided airborne command and control for the pre-planned training event in the Arctic region, which enabled Norwegian F-35 fighters to integrate with maritime forces and Allied Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. The exercise trained Alliance forces to integrate, operate, and communicate in the unique conditions of the High North.
Exercising multinational and multi-platform data sharing processes between NATO and Allies is essential to maintaining a decisive advantage and ensuring peace and stability in the region
Data links and other communication systems between land, maritime, space, and airborne command and control assets were tested during the exercise. This training allows Allies to identify and overcome barriers to operating in the High North, contributing to NATO joint readiness and 360˚ vigilance. Progressive exercises enhance the ability of the Alliance to conduct long-range information passage and conduct distributed decision-making in challenging Arctic conditions.
"Rapid and resilient communications help us make better decisions faster," said General Jeff Harrigian, Commander Allied Air Command. "Exercising multinational and multi-platform data sharing processes between NATO and Allies is essential to maintaining a decisive advantage and ensuring peace and stability in the region," he added.
The constant evolution of Allied capabilities in the air and space domains requires an ongoing training programme to build cross-domain 'muscle memory' in different environments. By deploying 5th Generation fighters, ISR aircraft and ships in the High North, the Alliance has reinforced critical communication links, built trust among Allies and proven its ability to conduct operations across all domains.
NATO E-3A AWACS can constantly monitor the airspace within a radius of more than 400 km and exchange information in near real-time, via digital data links, with ground-based, sea-based and airborne commanders. By using pulse Doppler radar during this exercise, the E-3A was able to give early warning of low- or high-flying aircraft. The NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force operates from Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany.
Norway is dependent on this type of exercise and cooperation with Allied forces. Today's training is a good example of us moving in the right direction
Norway supported the exercise with F-35 fighter aircraft from 332 Squadron based at Ørland and F-16 fighter aircraft from 331 Squadron based in Bodø. Both Squadrons are under the command of 332 Air wing at Ørland.
"Norway is dependent on this type of exercise and cooperation with Allied forces. Today's training is a good example of us moving in the right direction and that we are on the right track in utilising F-35 effectively in a multi-domain operation, with Allies, under a significant Anti-Access/Area-Denial or A2AD threat," says Lieutenant Colonel Ole-Marius Tørrisplass at Norwegian Air Operations Centre, Royal Norwegian Air Force.
United States Air Force in Europe-Air Forces Africa supported the event with personnel from Combat Communications Squadron out of Ramstein Air Base, Support Operations Group personnel from U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany and Air Control Squadron personnel out of Aviano Air Base Italy. USS Arleigh Burke, a U.S. Navy Europe guided missile destroyer and assets from U.S. Space Command contributed to this complex combined training event.