A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle finishes refueling a KC-135R Stratotanker in this photo from September 2013. Four F-15s and a KC-135 are headed to Norway for to participate in the Nordic Defence Cooperation exercise. (Air Force)
The U.S. is sending four F-15E fighters and a KC-135 Stratotanker to Norway to participate in an exercise running from Tuesday through Thursday, according to U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
The planes and airmen will take part in the Nordic Defence Cooperation, a regularly scheduled exercise that was planned before Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region at the end of February, said Maj. Gerardo Gonzalez, a spokesman for USAFE.
The F-15s and about 40 airmen from RAF Lakenheath in Britain will go to Bodo Main Air Station in Norway to work with the air forces from Norway, Finland and Sweden, Gonzalez said. The KC-135 and about 25 airmen from RAF Mildenhall will be sent to Orland Main Air Station.
The threat of Russian expansionism has prompted both Sweden and Finland to consider becoming permanent members, which already includes Norway. Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide has supported adding both countries to the alliance.
“I hope Finland and Sweden do join NATO,” he said at a news conference earlier this year. “They would be welcomed with open arms by Norway and the alliance.”