Major airforce exercise held over Scandinavia

Huang Panyue

HELSINKI, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Over 100 military aircraft from 11 countries began on Monday an exercise over the sky of Northern Finland, Sweden and Norway.

This is the first time American B-52H bombers are involved in the Arctic Challenge (ACE), which has been arranged since 2013. The bombers will not land at the regional bases.

American F-15s are using the Finnish airport of Rovaniemi as their base during the maneuver. Finland and Sweden are NATO partners, while Norway is a member of NATO.

Some protestors at the Rovaniemi airport questioned the cooperation on Monday. Representing the Finnish Defenders of the Peace, they told national broadcaster Yle that the exercise increased tension in the Northern tier of Europe and also hamper reindeer at breeding time.

The drill has gathered forces from Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.

The exercise zone remains far from the Russian border, according to the organizers.

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