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Oregon Airmen train in Finland

A U.S. Air Force F-15D aircraft takes to the skies over the Kuopio Airport in Finland during a training exercise that is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, May 10, 2016. Five F-15C/D Eagles and more than 100 Oregon Air National Guard Airmen deployed to Finland from Oregon to participate in joint training with U.S. partner Finland as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The training will improve their ability to work and fly together in a realistic training environment while furthering a proven partnership. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

A U.S. Air Force F-15D aircraft takes to the skies over the Kuopio Airport in Finland during a training exercise that is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, May 10, 2016. Five F-15C/D Eagles and more than 100 Oregon Air National Guard Airmen deployed to Finland from Oregon to participate in joint training with U.S. partner Finland as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The training will improve their ability to work and fly together in a realistic training environment while furthering a proven partnership. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

The 173rd Fighter Wing flagship touches down at Rissala Air Base, Finland during a joint training exercise that is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, May 10, 2016. The distinctive paint scheme was developed by the unit and commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Oregon Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

The 173rd Fighter Wing flagship touches down at Rissala Air Base, Finland during a joint training exercise that is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, May 10, 2016. The distinctive paint scheme was developed by the unit and commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Oregon Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

A Finnish air force F-18 and a U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle from the 173rd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, return to Rissala Air Base, Finland following a sortie during a training exercise that is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, May 10, 2016. Over the course of two weeks the Oregon Air National Guard will fly jointly with the Finnish air force to practice interoperability between the two forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

A Finnish air force F-18 and a U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle from the 173rd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, return to Rissala Air Base, Finland following a sortie during a training exercise that is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, May 10, 2016. Over the course of two weeks the Oregon Air National Guard will fly jointly with the Finnish air force to practice interoperability between the two forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Carlos Ruiz, a 173rd Fighter Wing F-15C crew chief, works with Vilma Niiranen of the Finnish air force to fuel an F-15 following a sortie, May 10, 2016 at Rissala AFB, Finland. The aircraft sports a special paint scheme approved for one year in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Oregon Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Carlos Ruiz, a 173rd Fighter Wing F-15C crew chief, works with Vilma Niiranen of the Finnish air force to fuel an F-15 following a sortie, May 10, 2016 at Rissala AFB, Finland. The aircraft sports a special paint scheme approved for one year in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Oregon Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

U.S. Air Force F-15 Pilot Maj. Kevin Welch, 173rd Fighter Wing Oregon Air National Guard, helps a Finnish air force F-18 pilot get situated in the back seat of an F-15 D-model, May 16, 2016, while participating in a joint exercise that is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. During the two week exercise, Finnish and American pilots flew against each other and also escorted their counterparts in the two seat versions of both airframes. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

U.S. Air Force F-15 Pilot Maj. Kevin Welch, 173rd Fighter Wing Oregon Air National Guard, helps a Finnish air force F-18 pilot get situated in the back seat of an F-15 D-model, May 16, 2016, while participating in a joint exercise that is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. During the two week exercise, Finnish and American pilots flew against each other and also escorted their counterparts in the two seat versions of both airframes. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

The 173rd Fighter Wing’s flagship F-15C aircraft taxi's past a row of Finnish air force F-18 Hornet aircraft as it leaves for a sortie during a joint training exercise between the U.S. and Finland. The exercise was a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve and represented a training opportunity for two partner countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

The 173rd Fighter Wing’s flagship F-15C aircraft taxi's past a row of Finnish air force F-18 Hornet aircraft as it leaves for a sortie during a joint training exercise between the U.S. and Finland. The exercise was a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve and represented a training opportunity for two partner countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Kevin Welch, an F-15C instructor pilot from 173rd Fighter Wing, prepares to fly in the back seat of a Finnish F-18 Hornet, May 16, 2016, during a joint training exercise between the Finnish air force and the Oregon Air National Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing. The exercise fell under Operation Atlantic Resolve but differed from a normal theater security package because it was purely a training opportunity with a partner country.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Kevin Welch, an F-15C instructor pilot from 173rd Fighter Wing, prepares to fly in the back seat of a Finnish F-18 Hornet, May 16, 2016, during a joint training exercise between the Finnish air force and the Oregon Air National Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing. The exercise fell under Operation Atlantic Resolve but differed from a normal theater security package because it was purely a training opportunity with a partner country. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/released)

KUOPIO, Finland -- More than 100 Oregon Air National Guard Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field, Ore. traveled to Kuopio, Finland for a training opportunity between two partner countries. 

The exercise is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, but differs from other deployments to the region called theater security packages in that it is really a training opportunity between partner nations--Finland and the United States.

The 173rd Fighter Wing is the sole F-15C training unit for the United States Air Force, and its main mission is to introduce Airmen to the F-15C for the first time or requalify pilots from non-flying positions or other airframes.  173rd Fighter Wing Commander Col. Jeff Smith said that expertise proved valuable in this environment.

"At home with our students we use a building block approach beginning with one-verses-one scenarios and progressing to two-verses-two and so on, and that format is how we are conducting this exercise beginning with the smallest block, getting familiar with each other's tactics and working to cross the language barrier," he said. "By the end of next week we'll be training in large force exercises, possibly as many as eight-verses-eight."

Lt. Col. Alaric Michaelis, 173rd FW F-15 instructor pilot, says that in more than 19 years of flying the F-15 this training experience is near the top.

"The fighter pilots from Finland are the best international fighter pilots that I, in my career, have flown with," he said. "It's not just their ability, but their want, their tenacity, and their grit to get better."

Another high point the American pilots are quick to point out is the first-class way the Finns have welcomed them.

"Personally this has been my favorite trip I've ever been on," said Maj. Kevin Welch, an instructor pilot with the 173rd Fighter Wing. "To see the work ethic of the younger guys--to see the intensity of the older guys to help make them better is amazing!"

Over the final week of the training exercise the Finns and the Americans will practice a large scale exercise against the Swedish air force; Welch says it will put to the test everything they have learned in the last 10 days.