RAF fighter jets deploy to Finland and Sweden for joint training

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The deployments, which took place last month at the request of host nations, allowed partner air forces to develop their common tactics and strengthen their ability to operate side-by-side.

Of them F-35B and four Typhoons conducted high-level combat training with Finnish F-18 Hornets and Swedish Gripen aircraft, underlining the UK’s commitment to enhancing our collective defense capabilities.

The deployments are a practical demonstration of the Mutual Security Assurance Statements the UK signed with these countries in May as they progress with their respective applications for NATO membership. The three countries are already working together through the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, which is a coalition of 10 member nations working together to keep Northern Europe secure.

Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace said:

Finland and Sweden are important defense partners and we welcome their applications for NATO membership, which will strengthen the alliance as we face a renewed threat in Europe.

These deployments underscore our determination to strengthen this partnership and ensure that our forces can work together seamlessly.

The F-35’s deployment to Finland was only the second time the aircraft type has landed in the country, following the visit of two American F-35As for an air show in June. The arrival of the F-35B has particularly interested the Finns who recently announced that they would buy F-35s. Britain’s Lightning Force will continue to develop its partnership with the Finnish Air Force as it integrates its new aircraft.

Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said:

The Joint Expeditionary Force contributes to regional security and stability. Joint exercises, like the one here in Såtenäs, strengthen our ability to operate together in response to a crisis in our neighbourhood. This is especially important in today’s challenging security environment.

The fighter planes were supported by teams of specialists from RAF Marham and RAF Lossiemouth. A Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton also provided aerial refueling to extend the duration of combat sorties and an A400M Atlas deployed the support team to Sweden.

Working with equally advanced air forces, such as Finland and Sweden, also provides an opportunity to learn from each other and identify areas of mutual interest. Deployed teams have spent time further integrating their systems, so they can quickly share information on the exercise and in the future.

These exercises are part of a series of bilateral and joint Expeditionary Force exercises planned this year at the request of Finland and Sweden. Later this month, the UK will deploy the F-35B to Norway for further integration training with the Norwegian Air Force.

Typhoon Force also deployed aircraft to Konya in Turkey for similar integrated fighter training with the Turkish Air Force, flying alongside Turkish, Pakistani, Jordanian and Azerbaijani aircraft in simulated combat scenarios. The Typhoons were deployed from Romania where they currently support the NATO Air Policing mission.


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