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Hanki 24 to test Air Force operational concept in winter conditions

Air Force
Publication date 15.2.2024 9.30
Press release
Four F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters
Four F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters. Photo: Finnish Air Force.

The Finnish Air Force will arrange the Hanki 24 air exercise from 26 February to 2 March 2024. Approximately 40 aircraft and 3,800 airmen will participate in the exercise.

Hanki 24 will be the Air Force’s main exercise for 2024, focusing on training the reservists of the Air Force Academy and Lapland Air Wing. In total, the exercise will involve around 3,800 personnel, including 2,300 reservists. The main operating bases of the exercise will be Tikkakoski in Jyväskylä and Rovaniemi. However, to practise agile combat employment, the participating aircraft will operate also from other airfields throughout Finland.

‒ The objective of the exercise is to develop the readiness and capabilities of the Air Force. We will train base operations and the implementation of large-force air operations from dispersed locations. One of the most important training goals is to give our reservists practice, in winter conditions, of tasks laid down in the Air Force operational concept, says Exercise Director, Brigadier General Timo Herranen, Chief of Staff, Air Force Command Finland. 

Combat in winter conditions - in the air and at the bases

Around 40 aircraft will be involved in the exercise, 30 of them being F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters. In addition to the Hornets, the exercise will include Hawk jet trainers as well as transport and liaison aircraft. Flight detachments from abroad will not be seen in the exercise, but control and reporting centre personnel from the Royal Air Force will take part, and Finnish fighters will also operate from Kallax Air Base, Sweden. Cooperation with NATO allies will be further developed in the Nordic Response 24 exercise starting right after Hanki 24. 

The Hanki 24 exercise will provide training in versatile and realistic scenarios, and the units will practise combat in the air and at the bases. As per the Air Force agile combat employment concept, the exercise units will also use a highway strip adjacent to the airfield at both main operating bases. Highway 4 in Tikkakoski and road 9523 (Norvatie) in Rovaniemi will be closed to traffic. The Air Force Academy and the Lapland Air Wing will provide information on the detour arrangements. 

The aircraft of the exercise unit conducting air defence missions will fly not only from the main bases but also from Oulu, Pudasjärvi, Vaasa and Kokkola-Pietarsaari airfields as well as Kallax Air Base in Luleå, Sweden. The fighters simulating the adversary in the exercise will operate out of Karelia Air Wing's Rissala Air Base during the entire event. 

The Hanki 24 air activity will involve flight operations at low altitudes and supersonic flying at an altitude of more than 10 kilometres above the mainland. During the exercise, fighters will deploy countermeasures such as flares and chaff. Flares may be seen as momentary bright spots of light in the sky, and chaff may cause echoes on weather radar. 

The exercise operating tempo will increase in stages so that most of the air operations will be conducted starting from Wednesday, 28 February. On Monday and Tuesday, 26 to 27 February, missions will be completed by 5 pm. From Wednesday to Friday, 28 February to 1 March, air activities will take place daily from 7 am to 9 pm and on Saturday, 2 March, air operations will be concluded by 2 pm.