Norway has kicked off ‘Joint Viking 2023’, a multinational exercise designed to demonstrate the defence of Norway and of NATO’s northern flank.
Running between 6 and 16 March, the bi-annual ‘Joint Viking’ exercise is taking place at sea in Norway’s northern fjords and ashore in the region around Bardufoss. 20,000 allied personnel have come together for the exercise, with this training integrated with the UK-led ‘Joint Warrior’ activity.
In a statement issued at the start of ‘Joint Viking’, the Norwegian Armed Forces said “The exercise increases our preparedness and our capability to conduct large-scale joint operations in challenging weather and climate.”
Presence ashore includes Norway’s Brigade North and force elements from the US Marine Corps. In the air, aircraft including Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-35 joint strike fighters and P-8A maritime patrol aircraft have been flying sorties.
The at-sea presence includes the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) task group, with the UK Royal Navy (RN) amphibious assault ship HMS Albion operating as flagship. JEF participants for the exercise include Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.
40 ships are present at sea. The assembled fleet includes Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), the Royal Netherlands Navy amphibious ships HNLMS Rotterdam and HNLMS Karel Doorman, the Royal Danish Navy Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates HDMS Peter Willemoes and HDMS Niels Juel, and the RN air-defence destroyer HMS Defender.
At-sea activities have included practising anti-submarine warfare (ASW) tasks. One submarine in attendance is the Royal Norwegian Navy Ula-class diesel-electric boat HNoMS Uredd.
Controlling the maritime flanks is central to building deterrence and defence for NATO and its member states in the High North. In a social media post, the Norwegian Armed Forces said “sea control is particularly important at NATO’s northern flank.” ASW capability is a central element of developing and maintaining such sea control.
Uredd also conducted a joint training mission with RNoAF F35s, in Vagsfjord.
Other countries present for ‘Joint Viking’ include Canada, France, and Germany.
by Dr. Lee Willett