We at FighterSweep cannot say enough good things about the fantastic people comprising the 173rd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard. We got to see their act during Exercise Sentry Eagle 2015 and have plans to return in the very near future to catch up with them. In the mean time, it looks as though they’ll be traveling to Europe in a few months.

From 9 May until 22 May, 2016, six F-15C/Ds and approximately 100 Airmen from the 173 FW will deploy to Kuopio, Finland, to participate in joint training with that partner nation’s Air Force. This training is part of the ongoing Operation Atlantic Resolve and will improve the 114th Fighter Squadron’s ability to work and fly in a realistic training environment while furthering a proven partnership with Filand built on shared values, experiences and vision.

If you’ll recall, Atlantic Resolve was initiated by the United States in response to Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Keep in mind this is not part of a Theater Security Package, nor is it in response to any particular threat.

A McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F-15C Eagle from the Oregon Air National Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing banks into an engagement during Exercise Sentry Eagle 2015. (Photo by Scott Wolff)
A McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F-15C Eagle from the Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing banks into an engagement during Exercise Sentry Eagle 2015. (Photo by Scott Wolff)

The deployment of the Oregon Air National Guard is a tangible part of a steadfast commitment to enhancing security in the Baltic Sea Region. Finland is not a NATO country, but it does share over eight hundred miles of border with Russia, and has seen more than its fair share of airspace violations by the neighbor to the east. The U.S. has participated in past training with the Finnish Air Force, to include F-15 training in March of 2014 and F-16 training in May of 2015.

“Combined training events with our partners demonstrate our shared commitment to peace and better prepare us to respond to a range of potential security and humanitarian emergencies we may face in the future,” says Master Sergeant Jennifer Shirar, Public Affairs Superintendent with the 173rd. “Operation Atlantic Resolve is a demonstration of our continued commitment to the collective security of Europe and dedication to the enduring peace and stability of the region.”

The exercise was first reported last week by Finnish public broadcaster YLE, which stated “A training session of U.S. military aircraft of this scale has not previously taken place in Finland.”

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