NORWAY - Thunder Bolt 21 and Artic Challenge Exercise 21

Delivered by Military Adviser Arne H. Knapskog at the 976th meeting of the Forum for Security Cooperation, Vienna, 19 May 2021.

Thank you, Chairperson, for giving me the screen.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the notified exercise for 2021 from Norway, Joint Viking 21, was cancelled. On a voluntary basis Norway notified a new exercise on 19 April 2021, Exercise Thunder Bolt 21 (TB21). This was done with the CSBM VD message number CBM/NO/21/0004/F25/O

Exercise Thunder Bolt 2021 (TB21) is a Joint and Combined multinational exercise including live fire.

The main exercise objective of TB21 is to train combined arms on the tactical and sub tactical level with live ordnance.  The exercise will be supported by joint assets, including air assets from exercise Artic Challenge 21 (ACE21) scheduled in the same time frame. The intent of TB21 is to train realistic manoeuvres with live ordinance integrated with joint assets.

The exercise scenario will include a Combat Enhancement Training/Force Integration Training (CET/FIT) phase include deployment into forward battel positions. The Field Training Exercise (FTX) phase provides an area to exercise joint aspects of operations at the tactical level and enhance war-fighting skills for participating forces.

The total number of troops that will participate is 3560.
(Total personnel strength by nation; Norway 3500, USA 60)

Participating units in the exercise will be; Brigade North (BDE N) with units from both Northern and Southern Norway (Telemark Battalion), Finnmark Land Command (FLC) and Norwegian Army Operation support. A US Field Artillery Battery will also take part in the exercise (USAEUR 41 FAB).

Command and control of Thunder Bolt will be done by the Norwegian Joint Headquarter (NJHQ).

The timeframe of the exercise will be from 31st May to the 17th of June 2021.
(CET/FIT 31/5-6/6, FTX 6/6-18/6)

Training area – Exercise TB21 will take place in military training grounds in Northern Norway, in TROMS and western part of FINNMARK, as shown on the slide.

Major Weapon and Equipment Systems will include 12 Battle Tanks (BT), 36 Armoured Combat Vehicles (ACV), 16 artillery pieces and MRLS and 4 transport helicopters.


(Next slide)


Arctic Challenge Exercise 21(ACE21)

Norway would also like to inform about exercise Artic Challenge 2021 (ACE21).

This is a Nordic-led flag level air exercise. It contains Cross Border Training and is a bi-annual exercise arranged by Finland, Sweden, and Norway.

The aim of ACE21 is to conduct a safe and effective high quality flag level exercise in a multi domain environment, integrating NATO- and Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations, executed from several locations.
Main training audience is TACTICAL level. Coordinated operations mainly in Swedish airspace with Air Controls from 4 airbases: Ørlandet and Bodø Airbases in Norway, Kallax Airbase in Sweden, and Rovaniemi Airbase in Finland.

The Norwegian Air Operation Centre (NAOC) will have tactical command during ACE 21, and exercise staff will be located on all 4 bases. Operational control will be conducted from the Norwegian Joint Headquarters (NJHQ).

ACE21 will support the land exercise TB21 by including air assets to this exercise.

Participants in the exercise will be Norway, Finland, Sweden, NATO-allies and PfP-nations.
A total of 60 combat aircraft, as well as 5 support aircraft, will conduct approximately 400 sorties total in Norway.

The exercise will take place from 7. June – 18. June 2021.

Training area as shown on the slide.
The conduct of the exercise will be coordinated operations nationally during the morning and coordinated operations mainly in Swedish airspace, during the afternoon. In this activity aircraft from all 4 airbases will take part.


Thank you for the attention.

PowerPoint presentation on exercise Thunder Bolt and Artic Challenge

(Transparency: Notification via VD 11. Information on MOU between Nordic Ministers of Defence and US. Publications on websites/public media:  “Letter of Intent signed on Nordic-US joint exercise “Arctic Challenge”
Risk reduction and incident prevention: Information on the exercise through notification, press releases from Nordic ministers of defence.)