Dozens of US F-35s fly towards St. Petersburg but turned back

NATO organizes one of the largest air exercises. Arctic Challenge Exercise 23 began on May 29 and will end yesterday. The large-scale air exercise is taking place all over the Baltics, with much activity happening over the northern parts of Sweden.

The sale of 35 F-35 stealth fighters to Germany is in progress
Photo credit: Pixabay

150 Western bloc warplanes were airlifted near the Russian border to send a signal to Vladimir Putin. 19FortyFive writes about this exercise and its participants.

Greece received two F-16 Block 52+ upgraded to Block 70 standard
Photo credit: Greek Air Force

As noted by American magazine, although Finland joined NATO only recently, the leadership of the Alliance has already conducted one of the largest air exercises in this country. According to the publication, 150 NATO fighter jets were raised in the sky as part of Arctic Challenge 23.

The planes were moving from west to east, towards the border of Russia and St. Petersburg, and turned around only when they were a few kilometers into the airspace of the Russian Federation.

F-35 Lightning II fighter jet
Photo credit: Twitter

“150 NATO aircraft were trained for war right next to Russia. These exercises are a warning to Putin,” the publication said.

19FortyFive added that various NATO fighters participated in the maneuvers: F-35 Lighting II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, JAS39 Gripen, F/A-18 Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Mirage, Rafale F3R, F-15 Strike Eagle In addition these included EADS C-295, KC-135 Stratotanker, Airbus CC-150 Polaris transport aircraft.

American commanders hope that operations in this mode will significantly increase the combat capability of NATO aviation, especially in the northern regions.

New F-15's avatar called F-15EX will carry GBU-57 'bunker buster'
Photo by USAF, Matthew Plew

In addition to the territory of Finland, the airspace of the Baltic countries and Norway was used during the maneuvers, the article says. Sweden, which is not a member of NATO, also participates in them.

Swedish Air Force Lieutenant General J. Col. Jørgen Axelsson confirmed that this is an important large-scale exercise.

However, the exercise has already been conducted and will most likely be held once a year or two. However, a threat to Russia remains the new member of NATO – Finland. According to BulgarianMilitary.com sources, Washington will want to deploy much more of the F-35 fighter in Finland than planned.

Currently, it is known that the Finns have ordered and are expecting 64 Lockheed F-35A Block 4 fighters. They are intended for the inventory of the Finnish Air Force [FAF or FiAF]. The F-35s are to replace Finland’s aging Boeing F/A-18 Hornet [55] multirole fighters. This means that in the coming years, the Russian border with Finland will be almost regularly scanned by the F-35.

However, the US wants more, according to various expert comments. With possible new military infrastructures funded by Washington or jointly with Helsinki, the Pentagon intends to send its equipment and deploy American forces to Finland. Strategic geographic proximity to Russia could make Finland a lessor of US B61 nuclear bombs. Just like Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey.

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