Due North – exercise Cold Response 2022

A fortnight ago, we have written about preparations for Cold Response 2022 – a NATO military exercise organized in Norway. Although being organized biannually since 2006, this year the training reached its largest significance. It became the largest exercise led by Norwegian armed forces since the Cold War era, as well as one of the most important NATO training activities of the year.

The main goal of Cold Response 2022 is to enhance the Norwegian defence capabilities by deploying a significant Allied amphibious and land force to the country. Therefore, particular emphasis has been placed on mastering transition between sea, coast and land, as well as the ability of the deployment contingent to operate in rough and demanding Arctic conditions of the northern Norway.

After a few months of preparations, the naval, air and special operations were launched on 14th March 2022. The exercise scenario was divided into three separate phases. During the first stage, the naval and air forces of the Alliance were assigned the task of gaining a ´command of the sea´ – the sea control that is essential to ensure that the NATO forces are able to deploy to Norway.

The second phase includes air operations supporting the main deployed force. Firstly, logistics hubs throughout Norway are defined and then being secured by the Norwegian armed forces, preparing them for receiving the Allied troops, equipment and supplies.

Phase three is the amphibious and land operation itself. Certainly, that part of the exercise cannot be carried out without an extensive support of the naval and air forces.

An american AV-8 Harrier taxing at Bodø Air Station – Cold Response 2022 (photo: Hanna Høegh / Forsvaret)
US Marine Bell UH-1Y Venom – Cold Response 2022 (photo: Tiril Haslestad / Forsvaret)

As already mentioned, the training activities are going to be executed all over the country. From Rena military camp, Oslo Airport and Lillehammer area in the Southeast Norway, through Fosen and Stjørdal in the central part of the country, to the Arctic areas near Bodø, Porsangmoen and Narvik.

In accordance with the exercise timeline, the first phase of Cold Response 2022 was already executed between 14th and 18th March, the second phase was launched on 16th March and concluded on 20th March. The third, final phase of the training, began on 19th March and is planned to be finalized today, on 22nd March. Additional amphibious and land operations are also planned for the period between 23rd and 31st March.

According to the Norwegian MoD, approximately 220 aircraft are participating in the exercise this year. The Royal Norwegian Air Force is engaged with their P-3 Orion maritime patrol aeroplanes, F-35 Lightning II fighter jets, Bell 412 and NH-90 helicopters, C-130J Hercules transport aircraft and DA20 ECM electronic warfare aircraft, as well as control and reporting personnel.

The American contingent includes both the USAF and US Navy aircraft, in particular F-15 Eagle, F-18 Hornet, AV-8B Harrier jets; C-130 Hercules transport aeroplanes, MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft; CH-53E, AH-1Z Viper, UH-1Y helicopters as well as KC-130J and KC-135 aerial tankers.

Other NATO nations are participating with E-3A AWACS and Atlantic II aircraft (France); A400 Atlas (Germany); P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, AW159 Wildcat, EH101 Merlin, NH-90 and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters (United Kingdom). The Alliance is also deploying their own fleet of the E-3As and Airbus MRTT aircraft.

Norwegian troops from Maritime Helicopter Wing are lifted by US Marine Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion – Cold Response 2022 (photo: Philip Linder/Forsvaret)
Norwegian NH-90 helicopter while taking-off from Bardufoss Air Base – Cold Response 2022 (photo: Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvaret)

Additionally, although not being members of the Alliance, Sweden and Finland decided to participate in the 2022 edition of the exercise. This resulted, inter alia, in involving the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets.

Several Allied navies are participating in the exercise this year, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, and Norway. An important fact is that Cold Response 2022 is involving the United States and Great Britain carrier battle groups, as well as the Italian aircraft carrier ´Giuseppe Garibaldi´. The land forces are deployed from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

Sadly, this year´s edition of the exercise was already marked by a tragic event. In the evening of 18th March, the MV-22B Osprey of the US Marine Corps was reported missing south of Bodø. According to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre of Northern Norway, the crashed aircraft was found around 21:20 hrs that day, in the Beiarn area. Regrettably, the weather conditions did not allow to perform any immediate rescue actions.

The local police rescue team managed to reach the crash site at 01:30 hrs next day. However, all four crew members of the USMC aircraft were reported dead.

US Marine MV-22 Osprey at Harstad – Cold Response 2022 (photo: Tiril Haslestad / Forsvaret)

Cover photo: US Marine Bell AH-1Z Viper – Cold Response 2022 (Tiril Haslestad / Forsvaret). All photos © Royal Norwegian Armed Forces / Forsvaret. Information from the NATO and Royal Norwegian Armed Forces press materials were used.