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Germany brings former DDR air defense systems to Arctic Challenge exercise

Former DDR 2K12 Kub Sa-6 air-defense system
Photo: German Air Force

The German Air Force is one of the participants of the international Arctic Challenge 2021 air defense exercise taking place in the Baltics and has brought several interesting systems to the drill.

While the majority of the German participants of the Norwegian-led exercise are in Finland, Luftwaffe specialists from the Center Electronic Warfare flying weapon systems (CEC FlgWaSys) are in Sweden, where they are setting up former Soviet air-defense systems for training evolutions.

These systems include the 9K33 Osa (NATO reporting name SA-8 Gecko) and the 2K12 “Kub” (NATO reporting name: SA-6 “Gainful”), which the German Air Force got ahold of following the German reunification in 1990.

Photos courtesy of the German Air Force

During Arctic Challenge 2021, eight of the systems will simulate enemy air defenses, which fighter jets from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, the US, and the United Kingdom will fight against.

While the former DDR radar systems are still fully functional, their interceptor missiles are defused, carrying instead smoke dispensers and high-tech sensors.

Exercise Arctic Challenge (ACE) is taking place between June 2 and 18.

The first ever ACE occurred in 2013 and was led by Sweden, alongside five other nations and NATO E-3 Sentry aircraft. The exercises have since rotated host nations between Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

Arctic Challenge exercises are part of Cross Border Training (CBT), which started in 2009 between Sweden, Finland and Norway. The air forces of these nations conduct on almost a weekly basis combined air combat training missions that are flown from their northern home bases. The cost-effective implementation pattern of combined exercises can also be applied to large-force air exercises.

Norwegian Air Force F-35A are taking part in the exercise for the first time. Photo: NATO

ACE 2021 is one of Europe’s largest live air power exercises. It gathers more than three thousand personnel and over 70 aircraft. In addition to multi-role fighters, transport and liaison aircraft, aerial refueling tankers, airborne warning and control system aircraft, and transport and search and rescue helicopters can be seen in the exercise.

The ACE 21 host bases are located in Luleå-Kallax in Sweden, Rovaniemi in Finland and Bodø and Ørland in Norway.