More than 230 U.S. airmen are taking part in Arctic Challenge, a training exercise in Scandinavia designed to improve interoperability between the air forces of the 11 participating nations.

Twelve F-15C Eagles and about 200 personnel from the 493rd Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, and two KC-135 Stratotankers and over 30 personnel from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, England, deployed to bases in Finland and Sweden for the exercise, which began May 19 and concludes June 2. The other participating air forces are from Finland, Sweden, Norway, the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and the Netherlands, as well as representatives from NATO, according to the U.S. Air Force.

"The primary objective for us is to work together with our partner nations and allies to increase our interoperability capabilities as a force," said Lt. Col. Jason Zumwalt, the 493rd FS commander. "These practice opportunities and experiences allow our pilots and maintainers to work together side-by-side with our partners and allies to plan, execute and debrief some very complex missions. That allows us to see how we can better work together in the future."

Arctic Challenge prepares forces to respond to any crisis together, according to the Air Force.

"Being able to work closely, face to face, side by side, and coordinate our actions together to achieve a common goal provides excellent training for everyone involved," Zumwalt said.

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