On 6th March, this year´s largest military training activity in Norway began. Within the exercise codenamed Joint Viking, the country´s armed forces, their allies and civilian partners will train on defending Norway.
Joint Viking is the biennial Norwegian military exercise, led by the Norwegian Armed Forces, with participation of the NATO and forces of the partnering nations, as well as law enforcement agencies and various civilian partners throughout Norway. In addition, in 2023 the exercise is closely connected with Joint Warrior, the British-led naval exercise held in the sea along the Norwegian coast, as well as Jøssing, the Norwegian Home Guard exercise in southwestern Norway.
Approximately 20,000 of military personnel will participate in the aforementioned events, with 12,000 taking part directly in Joint Viking and another 8,000 in Joint Warrior. Majority of the participants will come from Norway and will cooperate with military personnel from Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA.
The main objective of Joint Viking is to increase preparedness of the Norwegian Armed Forces preparedness and their capability to conduct large-scale joint operations in challenging weather and climate, but primarily, to ensure that the country´s military can defend Norway.
The abovementioned goal requires the Allied reinforcements and the NATO forces to exercise on deploying to Norway and to have enough knowledge and skills to operate along with the Norwegian forces in a harsh winter climate.
As a comprehensive military exercise, Joint Viking 2023 is being held on the ground, at sea and in the air. Approximately fifty aircraft and forty vessels are expected to participate in the training. Northern Norway, especially the Inner Troms Region was defined as the area of main activity, although some scenarios cover also other regions of the country, including its capital city, Oslo.
Protecting airspace over the capital was one of the objectives scheduled for the first week of the exercise. The air defence battalion, usually being stationed in Ørland, was being deployed to several locations in the vicinity of Oslo. Approximately forty vehicles and 140 of military personnel, equipped with NASAMS launch pads and radar stations actively participated in that part of the Joint Viking exercise. They were supported by F-35 Lightning II fighters of the Royal Norwegian Air Force that were also seen (and especially heard) over the capital city of Norway from Wednesday to Friday last week.
This year´s edition of Joint Viking will officially conclude on 16th March 2023. However, some additional military activities related to the exercise are also scheduled beyond that date.
Cover photo: F-35 Lighinting II of the Royal Norwegian Air Force is landing at Evenes air force base – Joint Viking 2023 (photo: Philip Linder / Forsvaret). All photos © Royal Norwegian Armed Forces / Forsvaret. Information from the Royal Norwegian Armed Forces press materials were used.