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Biggest Air Force drill Ruska 20 begins

Published : 28 Sep 2020, 13:39

Updated : 29 Sep 2020, 00:31

  DF Report

F/A-18 Hornet. Photo: Finnish Defence Forces.

Ruska 20, the largest air operations exercise of the Finnish Air Force in 2020 has begun on Monday, said the Air Force in a press release.

The exercise involves more than 60 aircraft and around 4,800 personnel, including 2,500 reservists.

During Ruska 20, a total of 11 airfields across Finland are going to be used. So the exercise will be seen and heard nearly all over the country. The exercise is being led by Colonel Juha-Pekka Keränen.

The annual Ruska exercises are about training for air defence tasks under emergency conditions.

The emphasis of Ruska 20 is on maintaining and enhancing readiness, providing training for reservists, and cooperation with the Swedish Air Force.

Being an extensive air operations exercise, Ruska 20 is this year’s most significant opportunity to provide training for Air Force active-duty personnel, conscripts, and reservists in their emergency conditions’ tasks.

This year, the emphasis is on training the reservists of the Lapland Air Command and Air Force Academy. A year ago, the Ruska 19 exercise focused on training the reservists of the Karelia Air Command and Satakunta Air Command. The purpose of the rotation is to maintain readiness and enhance the reservists’ know-how in all Air Force units.

Even though the Lapland Air Command and Air Force Academy bear the main responsibility for Ruska 20, all other Air Force units will also take part in the exercise. In addition to fighter jets and other aircraft, Ruska 20 will feature ground-based air defence assets, as the Finnish Army will participate in the exercise with ITO12 NASAMS II FIN and ITO90M Crotale units.

The participating units will be assigned to either perform air defence tasks or act as adversaries. The scenario, depicting a rapidly developing crisis, evolves in real time throughout the entire exercise, meaning that air operations can be carried out around the clock. The main operating bases of the defending units will be the Rovaniemi and Tikkakoski air bases, while the adversaries will operate out of Oulu and Luleå in Sweden.

During the first phase of the exercise from 28 September to 1 October, the bases in Rovaniemi, Tikkakoski, Kajaani, Halli and Oulu will be used. From 2 to 6 October, the defending units will operate also from the Kuopio, Seinäjoki, Kokkola-Pietarsaari, Vaasa, Pudasjärvi and Kuusamo airfields. An extensive network of airfields enables the swift dispersal of fighters to temporary operating bases across Finland.

The exercise will also involve JAS 39C/D Gripen multi-role fighters and an Argus airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft from the Swedish Air Force.

The participation of Swedish detachments in Ruska 20 is based on the close cooperation between the Finnish and Swedish air forces. Both the countries have taken part in each other’s major live air exercises since 2016.

The Defence Forces have successfully prevented the spread of COVID-19 by dividing active-duty personnel and conscripts into separate groups. The same principle will also be applied during Ruska 20.