Nordic Response 2024 exercise - Report from Finland

Nordic Response 2024
Finnish F/A-18 and German A400M sit on the apron at Rovaniemi Air Base, Finland.

Nordic Response 2024 is one of the exercises that are part of the larger NATO Steadfast Defender exercise, which focuses on the NATO Article-5 situation. In an Article-5 situation, one of the NATO countries is under attack and other NATO countries help the attacked NATO country.

For Nordic Response, Norway is the lead nation with the nordic areas of Norway, Sweden and Finland as the exercise area. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO has been extended with Finland in 2023 and Sweden in 2024 as full members. During the last two decades, both countries started to train together with NATO countries in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, adjusting policies, procedures and planning. One of the larger exercises where the Swedish and Finnish air Forces participated were the Dutch Air Force led ‘Frisian Flag’ exercises at Leeuwarden AB.

Over 20,000 soldiers from 13 allied nations took part in the exercise. Of these, approximately 10,000 exercised on land and were the most visible during the exercise. The participating nations were: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the USA.

The exercise had its focal point in northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland – as well as in the corresponding airspace and sea areas. There was particularly high activity at sea with over 50 submarines, frigates, corvettes, aircraft carriers, and various amphibious vessels.

In the air, more than 100 fighter jets, transport aircraft, maritime surveillance aircraft, as well as allied CH43 Super Stallion, Merlin, Cobra, and Osprey participated.

On the ground, thousands of soldiers trained on defending and protecting Nordic territory with various artillery systems, tanks, tracked vehicles, and other land vehicles.

The main part of the Nordic Response exercise activities took place in the northern Nordic region from 03–14 March 2024, with some preliminary actions that started in the weeks before.

At Bodø AB in northern Norway (ICAO: ENBO), a temporary Joint Nordic Air Operations Center was established, named Camp Bodin. In Camp Bodin, the more than 100 flights per day were planned and coordinated. While the daily exercise flights were controlled via the Air Force's Control and Reporting Center in Sørreisa (inside the Norwegian mountain Høggumpen).


Next to the Norwegian Air Force, many foreign aviation assets were deployed during the exercise

- US Marines: F/A-18 based at Andoya AB (NO), F-35B based at Evenes AB (NO), KC-130 based at Andoya AB (NO)
- Sweden: JAS Gripen based at Bardufoss (NO)
- NATO: E-3A based at Rygge AB (NO)
- Finland: F/A-18s based at Andoya (NO) and Kallax (SE), instead of Rovaniemi AB due to runway issues
- United Kingdom: F-35B based onboard aircraft-carrier HMS Prince of Wales
- Germany: A400m at Rovaniemi AB (FI)

Tanker support was flown with various USAF(E) tankers from Norway and the United Kingdom. And with British A330 Voyagers and NATO’s Multinational MRTT Unit A330 MRTTs

Nordic Response 2024


On March 07th 2024, a media-morning was held at Rovaniemi AB (ICAO: EFRO). For Finland, it was the very first time the country participated as an official NATO partner in an NATO Article-5 exercise. Some 4000 Finnish soldiers participated in this exercise.

Finnish Air Force Commander Major-General Juha-Pekka Keränen gave a short presentation at Rovaniemi AB, where he expressed his pride about this first participation as a full NATO exercise. A lot of standardization with NATO procedures and communication has been achieved during the years for the Finnish Air Force. And with the arrival of the LockheedMartin F-35 in a few years, the Finnish Air Force will make an upgrade to the 5th Generation fighters. Rovaniemi AB will be the first airbase to receive the F-35s. Later the Finnish Air Chief visited the German A400M at Rovaniemi AB, while sitting in the cockpit, he got an explanation from the German pilot.

The commander of the Lapland Airwing, Colonel Saku Joukas (callsign SHAKE), explained why there were no KC-135s and F/A-18s based at Rovaniemi. Due to the unexpected high temperatures, thaw had set in earlier than expected and the toplayer of the runway started to deteriorate. And to protect the participating aircraft, the Finnish F/A-18s were transferred just before the exercise to nearby Luleå/Kallax airbase in Sweden (ICAO: ESPA), with the help of the German Airbus A400M based at Rovaniemi AB.

Two Maine Air National Guard Boeing KC-135s of the 101 Air Refueling Wing were also scheduled to fly from Rovaniemi AB, but these tankers were redeployed to RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom, due to the runway problems.

Colonel Joukas explained that the Finnish F/A-18s were flying both air-air and air-ground missions during the exercise. And it depends on the Air Tasking Order (ATO), which defines the mission and the configuration of the aircraft.

Nordic Response 2024

Germany participation

The German military command has Quadriga2024 as their main exercise this year. It consists of various sub-exercises of which Quadriga Grand North would deploy a German Air Force (Luftwaffe) Airbus A400M to Rovaniemi Air Base to support the NordicResponse exercise. The main task for the A400 detachment was to train in arctic situations, during winter it can become -20 to -30 in northern Finland.

One of the tasks of the A400M of Lufttransport Geschwader 62 (Air Transport Wing 62) based at Wunstorf AB (ICAO:ETNW), was to drop various Special Forces (SOF) and their equipment in the Arctic environment, these SOF para droppings started two weeks before the official start of the NordicRespons exercise.In order for the SOF soldiers to take their positions and to perform reconnaissance missions. Also low level flights and night flights were performed during the exercise.
14 missions were flown during the NordicResponse exercise, which ended for the Germans on Friday March 08th. These missions
The German detachment was extended with a German Security Forces detachment of the German Air Mobile Protection Team ‘Friesland’, located at Schortens. This detachment had the task to protect the A400 and it’s crew, during the media-day the protection forces were fully dressed and armed around the A400M on the platform.

Nordic Response 2024

Rovaniemi AB visitors

At Rovaniemi AB, the planned mediaflight in a 101st Air National Guard KC-135 was cancelled because the KC-135s were redeployed to RAF Mildenhall due to runway problems. And as also the Finnish F/A-18s were redeployed to Swedish and Norwegian airbases, there were not many flying activities.
During the media-day, there were some activities. Some local Finnish F/A-18s flew missions, a Swedish Sikorsky UH-60M BlackHawk and a USAF Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II came in for a fuelstop. During the afternoon, the German A400 took off followed by a low-pass.

Major General Juha-Pekka Keränen

Major General Juha-Pekka Keränen was born in 1968 and he joined the Finnish Air Force as conscript in 1987. He flew the BAE Hawk, MiG-21BIS and the F/A-18; and after many roles in the Finnish Aircraft he became commander of the Finnish Air Force in 2022. He is still an active F/A-18 pilot and during the Finnish road-exercise ‘HANKI’ (end of February 2024), he flew an F/A-18D with his Dutch colleague Lieutenant-General André Steur (commander of the Dutch Air Force) in the backseat.

Nordic Response 2024

Nordic Response 2024

Nordic Response 2024

Nordic Response 2024

Nordic Response 2024

Nordic Response 2024

Nordic Response 2024

Nordic Response 2024

Nordic Response 2024

Nordic Response 2024

Text by: Alex van Noye & Joris van Boven
All photos were taken by Joris van Boven except the following:

USMC F-35B: Photo by Lance Cpl. Orlanys Diaz Figueroa
NoAF F-35A: Photo by Ole Andreas Vekve-Forsvaret
SwAF Gripen: Photo by Fabian Vika Helmersen-Forsvaret
Drop from GAF A400M: Photo by Luftwaffe

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