While massive firepower projection is mostly considered the important feature of military drills, they also provide some of the most stunning videos of aircraft maneuvering over various terrains, demonstrating their capabilities.
Similarly, a breathtaking video of a low-level flying Gripen maneuvering across the snowy terrain during the Cold Response 2022 exercise uploaded by Saab, a Swedish aerospace manufacturer, piqued the interest of aviation enthusiasts.
Saab released the footage just a day after the exercise ended on 1 April.
“Enjoy the ride,” Saab captioned the video on their social media account. “During the exercise Cold Response 2022, a Gripen pilot from the Swedish Air Force investigates the Norwegian terrain.”
A group of JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets from the F 21 Norrbotten Wing in Lule participated from the Swedish side in the Cold Response 2022 exercise. Another video shows the view from the Swedish Gripen cockpit during a refueling mission with the A330 Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit.
While Sweden is a neutral country, it has been a part of the bi-annual Cold Response for over 15 years. Finland, another neutral European country, was also part of the exercise.
The Swedish Armed Forces sent roughly 1,600 troops to the Cold Response, while Finland deployed about 700 soldiers. They joined together to form a joint brigade that trained mostly in the Troms region.
On 25 March 2022, Swedish Minister for Defense, Peter Hultqvist observed the Cold Response drills in Norway and stated — “The aim of Sweden’s participation is to strengthen our national defense capability and increase the collective capability of the Swedish Armed Forces to respond to an attack against Sweden and against our neighborhood.”
He also mentioned that “participating in the exercise is an important part of the evolving cooperation with our close partners, the other Nordic countries and NATO. Through exercises like this, we demonstrate which resources we are able to mobilize if necessary.”
Cold Response 22
Cold Response 22, one of Europe’s largest military drills, involved troops working together in a multi-domain, arctic environment. The event was hosted by Norway and was attended by NATO allies and partners.
On April 1st, the Cold Response came to an end. The exercise brought together more than 30,000 troops and 200 aircraft from 27 countries.
One of the main objectives was to prepare the NATO Response Force in augmenting and boosting Norwegian national forces, with the goal of integrating the two forces so that they can work together to defend allied territory.
Cold Response 2022 also seeks to test how Norway would organize allied forces on its soil, in accordance with Article 5 of NATO’s charter, which mandates member countries to respond to the assistance of another member state under assault.
According to Nato, “Alliance aircraft flew missions daily with contributions from Allied and Partner Air Forces including the US, UK, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway comprising of fighters, bombers, and critical enabling aircraft such as air-to-air refuelling tankers, transport, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.”
The exercise, however, received a lot of media attention for the wrong reasons. On March 18, four Marines were killed when their MV-22 Osprey aircraft crashed while flying in poor weather off the coast of northern Norway.
“The deaths of the four Marines demonstrates the realism of what we’re doing,” Lt. Gen. Yngve Odlo, the chief of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ operative headquarters said. “If we’re going to be effective in crises and wars, we have to exercise under realistic conditions. That includes bad weather. Of course, we have many ways of minimizing the risk, but we can never eliminate it.”
Nonetheless, the magnitude does not compare to the NATO drill Trident Juncture 2018, which was held in Norway that year. Then, 50,000 troops from 31 alliance and partner countries participated in the exercise.
Since the 1980s, Trident Juncture has been the largest military exercise on the Norwegian soil. Meanwhile, its worth mentioning that the drill was planned long before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Interestingly, Russia was invited to participate in the exercise, before the Russia-Ukraine war, as an observer but refused to send its observers.
The majority of the exercise apparently happened about 500 kilometers west of the Russian border on the militarized Kola Peninsula. The Norwegian Joint Headquarters also emphasizes that the drill is defensive and geared to train on militarily reinforcing Norway while also testing the deployment of the NATO Response Force.