Thursday, October 5, 2023

US Secretary of State Blinken is visiting Sweden – at the same time, a large air combat exercise is taking place


Finland’s foreign ministry has not commented on whether Blinken will also make it to Finland.

19.5. 14:38

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting Sweden during a major air combat exercise.

On May 30 and 31, a meeting of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will be held in Luleå, Sweden, which Blinken will participate in. Trade Minister Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Catherine Tai from the United States will also attend the meeting. The European Union is represented by Commission Vice-Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis.

The Arctic Challenge exercise, jointly organized by the air forces of Finland, Sweden and Norway, will be held in northern Norway, northern Sweden and northern Finland. This is one of the biggest air combat exercises in the whole of Europe this year. The main bases for the exercise are Pirkakala and Rovaniemi in Finland, Luleå in Sweden and Örlanti in Norway.

So far, there is no information whether Blinken will get to know about military exercises during his visit to Sweden. STT has also not received confirmation whether Blinken is visiting Finland in this connection or not. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland does not confirm information or comment on this matter.

About 3,000 soldiers and about 150 aircraft from the armed forces of 14 different countries participate in the Arctic Challenge exercise. These include, for example, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and the United States.

NATO participated in the exercise with Awacs command center aircraft.

According to the Norwegian Defense Ministry, this Arctic Challenge exercise is also the first major European exercise of F-35 fighter jets. Fifth generation F-35 stealth fighter aircraft from Norway, Great Britain, Holland, Italy and the United States are participating in the exercise.

The Finnish government decided in late 2021 to order 64 F-35 fighters for the Finnish Air Force. The successor to the Hornet fighters will be supplied by Lockheed Martin of the United States.

The goal of the Arctic Challenge is to train units to safely and effectively fight together in large multinational air operations.

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