U.S. carrier strike group makes ready for Arctic Circle mission, thebarentsobserver.com

[…] High North – Higher Tensions: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has fundamentally changed the security landscape in Europe. This winter and spring have seen one military exercise following the other. If Moscow wanted U.S. military forces further away from its borders, the opposite is achieved.

“I look forward to our joint operations on NATO’s northern flank, which improves interoperability, maintain freedom of navigation in international waters, deter aggression, and prepare us to defend our nations and the Alliance,” says Vice Admiral Thomas E. Ishee, commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

On Monday, the Vice Admiral embarked the “USS Gerald R. Ford” in the North Sea as the carrier sails towards the Norwegian capital where the giant makes port call on May 24.

The visit occurs as 13 NATO members and partner nations are in the final days of exercise Formidable Shield 2023 taking place in the waters north of Scotland and west of Lofoten, Andøya in Northern Norway. Formidable Shield is aimed at training to shoot down Russian missiles in case a conflict escalates to the north. […]

It is not known if the air wing of “USS Gerald R. Ford” will have any role in the exercise that in Norwegian air space happens along the coast of the Norwegian Sea from Ålesund to Helgeland. Larger sorties will take place over northern Sweden every afternoon for the period until June 9.

A main reason why the Scandinavian north and Arctic waters have become essential areas of interest for Europe and NATO is because of Russia’s Northern Fleet’s ballistic missile subs and multi-purpose subs operations out of the Kola Peninsula.

Gadzhiyevo north of Murmansk is home to a fleet of Delta-IV and Borey-class SSBNs carrying missiles capable of reaching North America with nuclear warheads. Russia has recently deployed about 15 strategic bombers to the Olenya Air Base in short distance from its border with Norway and Finland in the north. These are planes that can carry cruise missiles armed with nukes. Läs artikel