U.S. & Finnish Air Force aircrafts at Kuopio airport (Finland)

Kuopio Finland 17.5.2016, Rissalan Lentokenttä.
Kuopio Rissala Airport / Karelian Air Command Military Airport
From 9 May until 22 May, 2016, six F-15C/Ds and approximately 100-150 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 Finland 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. 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.”
The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is a military aerial refueling aircraft. It and the Boeing 707 airliner were developed from the Boeing 367-80 prototype. The KC-135 was the US Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker and replaced the KC-97 Stratofreighter. The KC-135 was initially tasked with refueling strategic bombers, but was used extensively in the Vietnam War and later conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm to extend the range and endurance of US tactical fighters and bombers.
The KC-135 entered service with the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1957; it is one of six military fixed-wing aircraft with over 50 years of continuous service with its original operator. The KC-135 is supplemented by the larger KC-10. Studies have concluded that many of the aircraft could be flown until 2040, although maintenance costs have greatly increased. The aircraft will eventually be replaced by the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus.
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft (hence the F/A designation). Designed by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) and Northrop, the F/A-18 was derived from the latter's YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Hornet is also used by the air forces of several other nations and, since 1986, by the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.
The F/A-18 has a top speed of Mach 1.8 (1,034 knots, 1,190 mph or 1,915 km/h at 40,000 ft or 12,190 m). It can carry a wide variety of bombs and missiles, including air-to-air and air-to-ground, supplemented by the 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon. It is powered by two General Electric F404 turbofan engines, which give the aircraft a high thrust-to-weight ratio. The F/A-18 has excellent aerodynamic characteristics, primarily attributed to its leading edge extensions (LEX). The fighter's primary missions are fighter escort, fleet air defense, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), air interdiction, close air support and aerial reconnaissance. Its versatility and reliability have proven it to be a valuable carrier asset, though it has been criticized for its lack of range and payload compared to its earlier contemporaries, such as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in the fighter and strike fighter role, and the Grumman A-6 Intruder and LTV A-7 Corsair II in the attack role.
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