RAF Wittering personnel support Arctic Challenge Exercise

Royal Air Force aircraft and personnel completed training on an exercise in Sweden alongside eight other nations, working together to build collective security.

Led by the Swedish Air Force, the aim of the Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE), was to test their effectiveness in a realistic threat environment. One of Europe’s largest air force exercises, with 140 aircraft and 4,000 troops from the UK (RAF), Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and USA, supported by NATO assets, the exercise was operated from three airbases in three different countries, adding further complexity to already demanding missions. The objective of the exercise is to train personnel for the possibility of working this
way with other nations on
future operations.
Located at Luleå-Kallax air base, the RAF contributed 155 personnel from 14 RAF stations to support aircraft on the exercise: including Typhoon fast-jets, Hercules and Voyager transport aircraft.
Personnel from 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron, 1 Expeditionary Logistic Squadron and 5001 Squadron, all from RAF Wittering, provided specialist engineering and logistic support.
Flying Officer Ben Stubbings, Logistics Officer at RAF Wittering, said: “The best part of this exercise is the team that I work with: everyone is highly qualified with a lot of experience so I’m just learning as much as I can from them to be ready for future deployments. It’s a great training opportunity not just for the pilots but for all the support personnel too.”
Each day saw up to 100 aircraft fly simultaneously in the exercise area which extended across the airspaces of Sweden, Finland and Norway. 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. 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.
Flight Lieutenant Luke Swithenbank, Medical Officer at RAF Wittering, said: “It’s important that we have British medical personnel here to support our aircrew and keep them in the air. Hearing the sound of those jets roaring across is a good show of airpower, everything we do to support that on the ground is important work.”