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Ruska 17: Finnish Air Force starts biggest aviation drills of the year

This week the Finnish Air Force is carrying out its biggest tactical training event of the year - the Ruska 17 drills - which started on Monday. For the first time Swedish Air Force personnel and aircraft will participate in the exercises. Swedish troops will portray the roles of both enemy and ally, according to the Finnish Air Force.

Lapin Lennosto saa kesän mittaan kymmenkunta Hornet-hävittäjää lisää
Hornet fighter jet. Image: Vesa Vaarama / Yle

The Finnish Air Force tactical drills Ruska 17, which began on Monday and will continue through Friday, will involve more than 60 aircraft and about 4,500 personnel at Air Force bases across the country.

The aerial drills will be visible in skies over areas of Rovaniemi, Kuopio, Pirkkala and Vaasa.

The objective of Ruska 17 is to train troops in air defence for emergency situations. In terms of the sheer number of troops, the drills are the largest of the year, the armed services branch says.

The Air Force says it will dispatch more than 30 Hornet fighters, 14 Hawk jet trainers and several transport and liaison aircraft. The Finnish Army will also participate in the drills with its NH90 helicopters.

Swedish Air Force troops will also participate in Ruska 17, with eight Gripen fighters and an Argus airborne-early-warning-and-control aircraft. Swedish pilots and support troops will train alongside Finns and take the role of opposing forces, according to a release from the Finnish Air Force.

The Ruska 17 flight exercise missions - which will be conducted between 8 am and 11 pm daily all week - are scheduled to be flown out of several air bases across the country. The Swedish aircraft will fly out of the Kallax Air Base in Sweden.

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