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Exercise Aurora 23 developed preparedness to defend the Baltic Sea region together with international partners

Defence Forces
Publication date 11.5.2023 15.00
Press release
Finnish and Swedish soldier shaking hands at Oskarshamn port.

The Finnish Defence Forces participated in the Swedish Armed Forces' main exercise Aurora 23 with over a thousand soldiers from the Army, Navy and Air Force as well as the Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command. The exercise, which took place in Southern Sweden for about 26,000 people, ends on 11 May.

From the Finnish Defence Forces, conscripts, reservists and personnel from all branches, as well as the Logistics Command, participated in the exercise. Finnish experts also took part in the cyber defence simulations of the exercise. The purpose of the participation was to develop the Finnish Defence Forces’ ability to cooperate with Sweden and other international partners.

Colonel Vesa Helminen, National Lead of the Defence Forces' exercise detachment, says that the exercise was important for developing interoperability.

– Aurora 23 offered an important opportunity to practice cooperation on a practical level with both Swedish and other international partners. We were able to develop our readiness for national defence and our ability to cooperate with our partners. The areas of development that have emerged will also provide tools for future exercises," Helminen says.

The exercise showed that Finland and Sweden are able to conduct joint operations on land, at sea, in the air and in cyberspace. Colonel Helminen says that the exercise was important for strengthening cohesion between the countries.

– The values we share and our vision of the security environment in the surrounding areas are at the core of our cooperation. The exercise further strengthened the cohesion between us, Helminen says.

A quarter of the detachment were reservists

The Finnish detachment was the largest of the international forces participating in the exercise with over a thousand soldiers, of whom about 250 were reservists. During the exercise, the Finns operated as part of a multinational force under the command of the Swedish Armed Forces. 

A total of about 700 soldiers from the Pori Brigade and the Armoured Brigade participated in the exercise. The army trained in cooperation with the Swedish brigade and in cooperation with British troops. The exercise developed the army's ability to operate as part of a multinational force.

The Air Force trained planning and implementation of multinational air operations as well as command centre and base operations. The exercise involved about a hundred people and six F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters, six Hawk trainers, transport and liaison aircraft.

During the exercise, the Navy developed interoperability in Swedish-led operations at tactical level and participated in the planning and conduct of joint operations. Approximately 300 people participated in the exercise, the mine sweeper vessel Purunpää, Hamina-class missile craft and the multi-purpose vessel Louhi, which served as a support vessel. In addition to combat ships, coastal troops from the Nyland Brigade and the Coastal Brigade and its boat fleet participated.

The Logistics Command supported the combat of the troops in cooperation with the Swedish Armed Forces by providing logistical support for the exercise in accordance with the FISE logistics concept.  The aim was to develop the ability to plan and implement maintenance and logistics together with the Swedish Armed Forces' maintenance and logistics forces.

Aurora 23 was important for deepening cooperation between Finland and Sweden on land, at sea, in the air and in cyberspace. Based on the observations and experiences gained during the exercise, it will be possible to deepen the cooperation further. The Swedish Armed Forces will next participate in the Lightning Strike and Northern Forest exercises in Northern Finland.

Aurora 23

•    An exercise led by the Swedish Armed Forces, in which more than 26,000 people participated. 
•    The exercise took place between 17 April and 11 May in southern Sweden, including maritime areas.
•    Soldiers from 15 different countries participated in the exercise. Among the international partners, Finland, the United States and the United Kingdom were the largest training troops.
•    In addition to the soldiers, Swedish civilian authorities participated in the exercise.