NATO members and its allies in the Nordic regions have started their Arctic Challenge Exercise, touted as one of Europe’s largest fighter jet exercises. The massive cross-border aerial maneuver drills in northern Europe will occur for two weeks.
The aerial exercise involves more than 100 aircraft and 4,000 personnel. NATO member Norway leads the drills, alongside Germany, Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States. Non-NATO allies Finland, Sweden and Switzerland are likewise present. Press TV, citing a statement released by the Norwegian Armed Forces, says part of the multitude of aircraft in the Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015 (ACE 2015) include the Lockheed Martin F-16s, Tornado GR4 fighters, and Eurofighter Typhoons.
Norwegian Brigadier General Jan Ove Rygg said the exercise aims to “train units in the orchestration and conduct of complex air operations, in close relations to NATO partners.”
The military exercises come over perceptions of a growing and aggressive militarily resurgent Russia. Its actions in eastern Ukraine that started in 2014 have sparked concerns it is out to destabilize eastern Europe.
The Arctic Circle is surrounded by seven countries, including Canada, Finland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the U.S. It had been an area of contention for the seven which all desire to exploit the abundant resources in the region. The area situated north of the Arctic Circle measures around 20 square kilometers. It covers four percent of the Earth’s surface.
Estimates of a 2008 United States Geological Survey showed areas north of the Arctic Circle hold 90 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil. It also has 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids in 25 geologically defined areas believed to contain petroleum. This sums up to equate 13 percent of world’s undiscovered oil.
Over half of the undiscovered oil resources are believed to be in just three geologic provinces – Arctic Alaska, the Amerasia Basin, and the East Greenland Rift Basins.