The Northern Coasts 2014 (NOCO14) exercise commenced in late August and is set to continue until September 11.
In addition to Finnish Army and Air Force units, exercise assets include aircraft from Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and the United States. The Finnish Air Force has assigned a single Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and small detachments flying BAE Systems Hawks and Learjets to participate in exercise air operations.
The opening phase of the exercise takes place in the Bothnian Sea north of the Åland Islands and south of Kristiinankaupunki between September 1 and 6, and the second phase unfolds in Northern Baltic Sea and western approaches to the Gulf of Finland on September 7 to 11.
Most flying takes place over water at low altitudes during daylight hours between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Helicopter and maritime patrol missions are also flown by night. Aircraft mostly fly at altitudes not exceeding three kilometers in visual meteorological conditions avoiding clouds. In this respect, exercise air operations differ considerably from fighter missions conducted at altitude under all meteorological conditions.
The Air Force has assigned around seventy service members to the exercise. This number includes staff posted at a Maritime Operations Centre (MAOC), aircrews, aircraft maintainers, and logistic personnel.
NOCO14 is the Navy’s main field exercise of the year. Its objective is to improve the interoperability of the participating units. The shallow and shoal-filled waters along the Finnish coast offer challenging exercise conditions where naval operations are supported by air assets and special forces.