Author: Ian French
Photography: Ian French, USMC, Royal Norwegian Air Force & Swedish Air Force
Nordic Response was originally a Norwegian exercise called Cold Response, which took place every two years. With the expansion of NATO to include Finland and Sweden, this exercise has now evolved into Nordic Response which is a Norwegian led exercise with the aim of training NATO’s ability to defend and reinforce the alliance’s northern frontiers.

The scope of the exercise is enormous and included over 20,000 soldiers from 13 allied nations: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the USA.

The exercise took place between the 3rd and 14th March 2024 in the far north of Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Nordic Response was actually part of a much wider and larger exercise called Steadfast Defender, NATO’s largest exercise since the Cold War, bringing together 90,000 troops and 32 countries.

Nordic Response had its focal point in northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland – as well as in the corresponding airspace and sea areas. There was a particularly high activity at sea with over 50 submarines, frigates, corvettes, aircraft carriers and various amphibious vessels. In addition, over 110 aircraft participated.

The key air bases used for deployments were:

Narvik-Evenes, Norway with USMC F-35B from VMFA542 MCAS Cherry Point

Andøya, Norway with USMC F/A-18C/D from VMFA312 MCAS Beaufort & KC-130J from VMGR252 MCAS Cherry Point

Bardufoss, Norway with Swedish Air Force JAS-39C/D from F17 Ronneby , Royal Navy Merlin from 845NAS RNAS Yeovilton & Army Air Corps Apache AH1 from 656 Sq at Wattisham

Rygge, Norway with NATO E-3A

Stavangar, Norway with USAF KC-135R from 168ARS Eielson AFB

Rovaniemi, Finland with USAF KC-135R from 100ARW RAF Mildenhall and German Air Force A400M from LTG62 Wunstorf

There were also a variety of ship based aircraft and helicopters involved including:

RAF F-35B from HMS Prince of Wales;
Italian Navy EH101 from ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi;
Dutch NH-90NFH from the HMNLS Karel Doorman group; and
Canadian Air Force CH148 from HMCS Charlottetown.

In addition, local aircraft and helicopters participated from Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Aviation Press would like to thank the Norwegian Air Force, Swedish Air Force, Finnish Air Force, US Marine Corps, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps, particularly the Media Departments, for their assistance with the content of this report.

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