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Sep 18 2020

WEEK 38 - NORTHERN EUROPE OPERATIONAL UPDATE

Brunssum, the Netherlands - Early this week Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) visited Turku, Finland, as part of its routine deployment in the Baltic Sea region. After departure, a complex set of training exercises was executed with several assets from the Finnish Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force.

Training between NATO and Finnish forces on 14 September focused on multiple warfare areas, including asymmetric warfare, greatly enhancing SNMG1 skills in this area. During the following days, additional exercise serials focused largely on above-water warfare. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the port visit programme was scaled down, to ensure the safety of crews and personnel on both sides.

Finland is a key partner for NATO; operating alongside Finnish units is a strong message of NATO’s commitment and resolve in the Baltic Sea region.

During the training, SNMG1 Portuguese flagship Corte-Real and HMCS Toronto had the chance to work side-by-side with three surface ships from the Finnish Navy - FNS Raahe, FNS Porvoo and FNS Pansio - one Super Puma helicopter, one Learjet from the Finnish Air Force and one vessel from the Finnish Coast Guard.

“Exercising with partner units is of utmost importance for Standing Naval Forces, not only to strengthen the bonds with our navies and maintain the highest level of readiness possible, but also to improve interoperability. Finland is a key partner for NATO, and operating alongside Finnish units is a strong message of NATO’s commitment and resolve in the Baltic Sea region”, said Commodore José Mirones, Commander of SNMG1.

Finland is one of NATO’s most active partners and an important priority is to develop interoperable capabilities, maintaining the ability of the Finnish armed forces to work with those of NATO and other partner countries in multinational peace-support operations.

Port visits and passing exercises are highly valuable opportunities to work with Allies and partners, exchanging best practices and working together to build interoperability. The presence of SNMG1 in the Baltic Sea is a regular occurrence contributing to security and stability in the region.

In Bulgaria, the multinational flying training - Exercise Thracian Viper - began on September 14 with participating fighter aircraft from Canada, Greece, and Romania flying in from their respective home bases. Starting next week, the US Air Force will join the exercise and deploy F-16 fighter jets from the 555th Fighter Squadron to the Bulgarian Air Base at Graf Ignatievo. Allied aircraft will conduct combined and joint training in simulated defensive and offensive scenarios. Bulgarian MiG-29s and L-39s, Canadian CF-188s – currently based in Romania under NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission – Hellenic and US F-16s as well as Romanian F-16s and MiG-21s – will conduct Composite Air Operations executing air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. Scenarios will become more complex in the course of the two-week exercise.

The Commander of the Bulgarian Air Force, Major General Tsanko Stoykov, welcomed the Allied participants. “We are honoured to host this year’s edition of the integrated flying training during Exercise Thracian Viper; with eleven different aircraft types we have added complexity and diversity to the exercise allowing us to perform a wide range of joint tasks in the Bulgarian airspace,” he added.

Participating forces will operate from seven military bases in Bulgaria, Greece and Romania. Overall coordination and flight management will be performed by the host nation in concert with the participants.

Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office

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