Finnish Air Force-led exercise Ruska 20 to begin in a few days, more than 60 aircraft involved

The Finnish Air Force will conduct the Ruska 20 air operations exercise from 28 September to 6 October 2020. More than 60 aircraft and around 4,800 personnel will take part in the service’s major exercise. The Swedish Air Force will also participate in Ruska 20.

Finnish Ruska 20 exercise
Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighter. The Finnish Hornets to take part in Ruska 20 exercise, from Sep. 28 to Oct. 6.

Ruska 20 is the largest exercise of the Finnish Air Force in 2020. The objective of the annual Ruska exercises is to enhance the readiness of the Air Force, and provide training for active-duty personnel, conscripts and reservists. The exercise can be seen and heard nearly all over the country - from Rovaniemi to Jyväskylä and from Kajaani to Vaasa.

In total, Ruska 20 will involve around 4,800 personnel, including 2,500 reservists. The participating units will be assigned to either perform air defence tasks or act as the adversary. The scenario evolves in real time through the entire exercise, meaning that air operations can be carried out around the clock.

"Ruska 20 will demonstrate the high readiness of the Air Force in protecting the integrity of Finnish airspace, and securing the functions vital to our society on a 24/7 basis in all situations. Active-duty personnel, conscripts and reservists operate in their emergency conditions’ tasks as per the Air Force’s mobile battle concept, says Exercise Director, Colonel Juha-Pekka Keränen.

"During the exercise, we will observe the national, regional and local COVID-19 restrictions. The Finnish Air Force follows the development of the COVID-19 situation, and we are prepared to modify the arrangements of the exercise at a short notice, if necessary. Live exercises such as Ruska are important for maintaining our troops’ skills and readiness in all situations. The health and safety of the troops is our first priority, and we will conduct the exercise as required by the circumstances, Keränen emphasises." 

More than 60 aircraft are due to fly in the exercise at its peak, the majority of them being F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters. Ruska 20 is a part of the Finnish-Swedish defence cooperation. Thus, Swedish Air Force JAS 39C/D Gripen multi-role fighters, along with an Argus airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, will also take part in the exercise. The Swedish aircraft will operate mainly from the bases of Rovaniemi and Luleå, Sweden.

The bases in Rovaniemi, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Kajaani and Halli will be used throughout the entire exercise. There will be troops engaged in the exercise in the vicinity of the bases, and areas designated for exercise activities are subjected to movement restrictions. The most intensive phase of the exercise will be from 2 to 6 October when the aircraft will operate also from Kuopio, Seinäjoki, Kokkola-Pietarsaari, Vaasa, Pudasjärvi and Kuusamo airfields.

Ruska 20 will feature low-level flight missions, and supersonic F/A-18 Hornet flights at no less than 10-kilometre altitude above the mainland. The aircraft will also deploy countermeasures such as flares and chaff. Flares may be seen briefly as bright spots of light in the sky, and chaff may cause echoes on weather radar. The exercise air operations will begin on 28 September at noon, and end on 6 October by 6 pm.

Source, Image: Finnish Air Force

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