NORWAY --- The Royal Norwegian Air Force is gearing up to use its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for its alert mission, intercepting incoming Russian aircraft as they fly into Norwegian airspace.
Before that happens, Norwegian pilots want to train alongside the U.S. Air Force, and will do so in the next few weeks as the biennial Arctic Challenge exercise kicks off in the high north, the term used for the region encompassing the Nordic countries and the Arctic, according to officials in the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It will mark Norway's first major exercise for its F-35A variant.
"The U.S. Air Force is a huge reinforcement or potential. We are not enough," said Svein Efjestad, policy director for the department for security and policy operations at Norway's Ministry of Defense.
Efjestad said that pairing with the U.S. in the exercise will bring volume, "tactical training" and advancement.
"We do not have the capacity to build on this knowledge ourselves; we have to draw on the bigger partners," he said in an interview. Military.com spoke with officials here as part of a fact-finding trip organized by the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, under the auspices of its partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Defense. (end of excerpt)
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