UPDATED 20 MARCH 2014 | Sixteen thousand troops, 16 nations and a sizable sea force supported by numerous airplanes are currently scrambling to defend the northern coasts of Norway. Why? To show that NATO and her partners have teeth and to train to keep those sharp during exercise Cold Response 2014. The first units have moving in place since the end of February, getting ready for the day the war games begin on 11 March 2014 (DV Day) in what can become the biggest joint combined military exercises of Western Europe this year.
The 6th edition of the multinational winter war exercise hosted by Norway brings units from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA, Germany, the United Kingdom together. In an area that is more than 200 km (124 miles) long and between 50 and 100 km (31 and 62 miles) deep, all the way from the southern tip of the beautiful Lofoten islands to the northern Norwegian town of Tromsø. Epicentre is Narvik-Harstad. The air forces involved will use a even bigger chunk of the Norwegian coast, with operations going on all the way from Tromsø to Trondheim in the south of the country.
Cold Response 2014 concluded the operations on 19 March, with the Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s from 331, 332 and 338 squadrons flying 35 missions. For some countries, like Sweden, be the biggest military exercise of the year. The Swedes contribute 1400 troops this year and will lead the multinational brigade for the first time. The brigade includes forces from the UK, the Netherlands, Canada and Norway. The naval manoeuvers that preluded the exercise had been given their own operation’s name, Dynamic Mongoose, that also saw the involvement of three Royal Navy Merlins. Of course more interesting to us are all air assets of Cold Response 2014.
In-theatre airbases will be Tromsø, Bardufoss, Andenes and Narvik-Harstad. Bodø and Ørland will be used as launching or retracting airfields during the simulated war, and possibly even Luleå-Kallax in Sweden. No word about Kiruna this year, which might have been skipped after the sensitive crash of a RNoAF C-130J on 15 March 2012 en route to Kiruna Flygplats.
Luftforsvaret (Royal Norwegian Air Force)
The RNoAF will contributes to CR14:
- Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon from Bodø (331/332 skvadron) and Ørland (338 skvadron), incl. machines with tail no. 659, 675, 687, 688
- Lockheed P-3 Orion from Andøya/Andenes, 333 skvadron, including P-3C Orion with tail nr. 3298
- Lockheed C-130J Hercules from Gardermoen, 335 skvadron
- Dassault DA-20 Jet Falcon from Rygge, 717 skvadron
- Bell 412SP from Bardufoss (339 skvadron) and possibly Rygge (720 skvadron), including machines with tail no. 139, 142, 143, 157 and 167
- NH90 from Bardufoss (operational test & evaluation / 334 skvadron), including machine with tail no. 049
- Sikorsky/Westland Sea King Mk 43 from Bardufoss, 330 skvadron
Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force)
The SweAF will contributes to CR14:
- 8 – 10 SAAB JAS 39 Gripen* from F21 Luleå-Kallax (Norrbottens flygflottilj), 211 & 212 Wing (Stridsflygdivision)
- 2 SAAB JAS 39 Gripen* from F17 Ronneby (Blekinge flygflottilj), 171 Wing (Stridsflygdivisionen)
- 1 Lockheed TP 84T (KC-130) Hercules from F7 Såtenäs (Skaraborgs flygflottilj)
- 1 SAAB TP 100 (Saab 340) with serial 009 F7 Såtenäs (Skaraborgs flygflottilj) flew personnel into the theatre
* The deployed SweAF Gripens include the JAS 39Cs with serials 221 and 249.
The Polish navy contributes to CR14:
- 1 Kaman SH-2G Seasprite shipborne ASW/maritime helicopter, operating from the guided-missile frigate ORP 273 Generał Tadeusz Kościuszko, which is the former FFG-9 USS Wadsworth
The Royal Netherlands Air Force contributes to CR14:
- 1 McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 tanker/transport aircraft, normally based at Eindhoven AB, the Netherlands
The German Armed Forces contribute to CR14:
- Bell UH-1D, including machine with serial 72+32 from Transporthubschrauberregiment 30 (THR 30), normally based at Niederstetten, Germany
- Transall C-160D, Lufttransportgeschwader 63 (LTG63) from Hohn, Germany
- Lockheed P-3C Orion, Marinefliegergeschwader 3 (MFG3) from Nordholz, Germany, operating from Andøya in Norway
From the combined NATO air units will participate:
- Boeing E-3A Sentry from NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany
- Reportedly at least 1 Boeing C-17A Globemaster III from NATO Air Transport at Papa, Hungary, flew in with German forces
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger with sources that include Forsvaret, Försvarsmakten, Ministerie van Defensie