The Ruska 20 Exercise Involves More Than 60 Aircraft and 4,800 Soldiers
(Source: Finnish Air Force; issued Sept. 17, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
A Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet fighter at Rovaniemi air base, in the country’s northern Lapland. In addition to Finnish aircraft, Swedish Air Force aircraft will also participate in the Ruska 20 maneuvers. (Finnish AF photo)
The Air Force will organize the Ruska 20 air operations exercise on 28 September ‒ 6 October 2020. More than 60 aircraft and about 4,800 people from all over Finland will take part in the year's main war exercise in the defense branch. The Swedish Air Force is also involved in the exercise.

Ruska 20 is the Air Force's largest exercise in 2020. The aim of the annual Ruska exercises is to develop the Air Force's readiness, as well as to train basic personnel, conscripts and reservists. The exercise is visible and heard in a large part of the country, from Rovaniemi to Jyväskylä and from Kajaani to Vaasa.

A total of 4,800 people are involved in the Ruska 20 exercise, of which about 2,500 are reservists. The troops participating in the exercise are divided into a party training air defense missions and describing the training opponent. The scenario evolves in real time, so there can be flight operations at any time of the day.

“Ruska 20 demonstrates the Air Force's high readiness to safeguard Finland's territorial integrity and the vital functions of society 24/7 in all situations. In the exercise, the main personnel, conscripts and reservists work in their emergency situations in accordance with the Air Force's mobile combat style,” says Colonel Juha-Pekka Keränen , the Director of the exercise and the Air Force's Operations Manager.

“The exercise respects national, regional and local constraints due to the coronavirus. The Air Force is constantly monitoring the development of the COVID-19 situation, and if necessary, we will change the way the exercise is carried out at short notice. Troop-like troop exercises are important to maintain skill and readiness in all conditions. The health and safety of the training teams is at the center, so we will carry out the training as required by the situation,” Keränen continues.

At most, more than 60 aircraft are involved in the exercise, most of which are F / A-18 Hornet multipurpose fighters. Ruska 20 is also part of the defense co-operation between Finland and Sweden. The Swedish Air Force includes JAS 39C / D Gripen multipurpose fighters and the control and combat control aircraft Argus. The Swedish flight departments rely mainly on Rovaniemi and the Luleå base in Sweden.

The bases in Rovaniemi, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Kajaani and Hall are in use throughout the exercise. There are troops participating in the exercise in the vicinity of the bases, and there are restrictions on movement in the areas used for the exercise.

Flight activity will peak on 2 6 October, when the airports of Kuopio, Seinäjoki, Kokkola-Pietarsaari, Vaasa, Pudasjärvi and Kuusamo are also in use.

The air operations of the Ruska 20 exercise involve operations at low altitudes as well as Hornet supersonic flights flying at an altitude of at least 10 kilometers above the mainland. In addition, torches and shreds from the aircraft's self-defense systems are used in the exercise. Torches can appear in the sky momentarily as bright light phenomena and shredding can cause false weather radar observations. The flight operations of the exercise will start on 28.9. at 12 noon and ending on 6.10. by 6 p.m.

Reserve - only healthy for exercise!

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Finnish Defense Forces have made changes to the training and exercise arrangements for key personnel, conscripts and reservists this year. The changes will enable the readiness to be maintained and the training goals to be achieved.

The Ruska 20 exercise follows the recommendations issued by the Government and the THL (National Institute for Health and Welfare) regarding hand and cough hygiene and safety distances. The exercise also takes into account national, regional and local constraints of the Defense Forces in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic. The Air Force is constantly monitoring the development of the COVID-19 situation and, if necessary, the exercise will be changed at short notice.

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