"Exercising NATO’s ability to project credible combat air power while integrating with important regional Partners, the activity involved approximately 20 aircraft; including fighters and tankers. Many of the aircraft from Allied nations Poland, France, the U.K. and the USA, as well as Partner nations, Finland and Sweden flew from home base locations, making use of air-to-air re-fueling essential for mission success," NATO said.
The U.S. Air Force’s newest tanker, the KC-46, refuels Finnish F/A-18s during NATO's large scale, multinational Vigilance Activity. Photo courtesy: Finnish Air Force
“Sweden is a key contributor to ensuring our shared security in the Baltic Sea region. This activity was a fantastic opportunity to train combined air operations with our future Allies and a clear confirmation that the Swedish Air Force is fully interoperable and ready to integrate into the NATO air domain,” said Colonel Peter Greberg Deputy Chief Of Staff Operations, Swedish Air Force.
The activity also saw the first instance of the U.S. Air Force’s newest tanker, the KC-46, refueling Finnish F/A-18s. Operating from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the KC-46 alongside tankers from other Allied nations play a crucial role in NATO air operations by extending the reach of both Allied and Partner aircraft.
“The purpose of today’s activity is to train air crews in aerial refueling while also demonstrating Finland’s readiness to operate with US and NATO forces,” said Brigadier General Timo Herranen, Chief of Staff, Finnish Air Force. “The ability to cooperate strengthens Finnish defense in the High North and the Baltic Sea region,” he added.