Skip to main content

Ruska 17: Finland and Sweden train to fight side by side

The Finnish Air Force, Ilmavoimat, has begun it’s largest exercise of the year, the Ruska 17, today. Exercise focuses on training an integrated air-defense force to fight against an unnamed peer-level adversary. It involves everything from base security and logistics to the advanced command centers and fighter jets.

Finnish F/A-18C and Swedish JAS 39C (photo: Ilmavoimat)

The Ruska 17 will include roughly 5100 conscripts, reservists and professional soldiers, 30 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet fighters, 14 BAE Hawk trainers, CASA C-295M transports, Pilatus PC-12NG and Learjet 35 A/S liaison aircrafts from the Finnish Air Force. Additionally the Finnish army will provide some troops and an unspecified number of the NH-90 helicopters.

Most Air Force reservists don't actually fly (photo: Ilmavoimat)

The Swedish Air Force is participating in the annual RUSKA-series of exercises for the second time. In 2016 Swedes operated as an aggressor unit and the two air forces fought each others over the skies of Finland. This year, for the very first time, Swedish Flygvapnet joins the Finnish Ilmavoimat and both train together to defend the Finnish airspace against a hostile air force. Earlier this year the Finnish air force, together with the army and navy, participated in the Swedish Aurora17 exercise.

The Swedish Air Force brings its Saab JAS 39C Gripens to the fight. While the Gripen is an extremely capable aircraft and the sheer number of the fighters Sweden can provide, will allow a much wider fighter coverage than what would be possible with only the 64 Finnish Hornets, the real force multiplier Sweden brings to the table is the Saab 340B AEW&C Aircraft.

Saab 340B with erieye radar (photo: Saab)
The Saab 340B and its Erieye AESA radar can provide information about enemy movements over 400 km away. The enhanced situational awareness gives a defending air force significantly more time to scramble and position it’s fighters for an intercept. The Erieye is a capability that Finland desperately needs, but can’t afford to buy in the foreseeable future.

Both the Finnish and Swedish aircraft will operate from dispersed airfields and at least one road base. The Vieremä road base was established during the Baana 17 exercise last week. Here is a cockpit video from a BAE Hawk doing a touch and go on a highway.



This dispersed fighting style has been a trademark of the Ilmavoimat since the 1930’s and the Flygvapnet has also employed it extensively. Operating so close to a hostile force, that has the ability to attack the air bases with cruise and ballistic missiles it’s imperative to use all available means to enhance the survivability of the combat aircraft and the vital support systems.

The Finnish Air Force has also just sent a request for information (RFI) to seven nations regarding the weapon systems for the successor of the F/A-18 Hornet. At the moment it seems that the competition for the new fighter is on schedule and the air defense of Finland will continue to improve in the future.


Disclaimer: This exercise was scheduled over a year ago and all neighboring nations have been informed about the training area and participating units well before the drill started. Very much unlike the Russian snap drills happening nearly weekly.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Russian Oktoberfest - the Activation of the entire Russian army

Even though the Zapad2017 drill, that rehearsed assault through the Baltics to relieve the Kaliningrad enclave, has ended, the Russian armed forces are not resting on their laurels. Today Russia announced that it will begin a control check that will include all military units in all of the military branches.

The control checks will be conducted in two phases. During the first phase of the tests over 300 active duty formations will be brought to combat readiness and tested by the inspectors. These checks will happen before the 15th of October. The checks will be held in 120 training areas across the Russian federation. There will be a significant number of tactical level exercises with troops relocating from their bases to the training areas. The amount of ground forces combat units involved can reach up to 120 000 soldiers.
The only exception to this rule are the units that participated in the Zapad2017 exercise, these units will be inspected by the respective unit commanders and t…

Steel quartet: the Russian tank programs

The Russian military modernization program has two superstars that have been grabbing the headlines, the T-50 Pak-Fa 5th generation fighter and the T-14 Armata main battle tank. The Armata has been dubbed as a wonder weapon that will make all other main battle tanks obsolete. The published plan was to phase out all other tracked platforms and gradually replace them with Armata variants. The T-14 Armata was supposed to be produced in great numbers.
The delayed development of the Armata platform has been evident, not only by it’s failure in the Victory Day parade at the Red Square, but also by the fact that the advanced T-72B3 variant has been produced in large numbers and an additional upgrade package has been applied to it in 2016.

In addition to the T-72B3M, two other Russian main battle tank upgrade programs are currently underway and the overall number of the modernized tanks will rise to thousands. It is remarkable that the Russian armed forces are committing to four separate tan…

Russia practices for an Iceland invasion

The Russian Northern Fleet has been very active lately, in addition to the usual landing drills close to the fleets home ports in the Kola peninsula, the fleet has been roaming the Russian northern coast with a landing squadron that carries a mix of marines and Arctic brigade specialists from the Alakurtti military base.
This unit has now made a landing drill at the remote island of Kotelny that sits between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea. The squadrons last supply point, where the crews and troops were allowed to rest and refit was in Dudinka. The distance from Dudinka to Kotelny is roughly 2000 km. This distance corresponds closely to the distance between the fleets home base in Kola and Iceland. The geography and the size of the islands are also very similar.

It is very important to test these kind of long distance naval operations in advance as the troops and the vehicles on board, must remain combat worthy all the way to the target. And the seas up north can be extr…