By John Ensor •
Published: 21 Sep 2023 • 18:27
RAF exercises in Finland.
BRITAIN’S RAF together with the Norwegian Air Force have been training in Finland, using tactics first developed during the ‘Cold War.’
On Wednesday, September 20, RAF Typhoon jets, alongside Norwegian F-35 fighters, demonstrated their capabilities by landing on a Finnish road near Tervo, Eastern Finland, as part of the Baana23 dispersed operations exercise, writes the Aviationist.
This marked the first time ever that a British Typhoon had touched down on a Finnish road. Historically, such training was a standard procedure during the Cold War, especially in Central, Eastern, and Northern Europe. The strategy was to ensure that aircraft could still operate even if NATO air bases were compromised by a Soviet attack.
However, with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, these exercises became less frequent, except in countries like Finland and Sweden. Interestingly, North Korean MiGs and Belarusian jets still occasionally conduct such operations.
Recent conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine and escalating tensions with Russia, have prompted many air forces to revisit this capability. The Polish Air Force, for instance, has initiated the ROUTE 604 exercise.
The Royal Air Force’s deployment of the Typhoon to Finland is a strategic move to utilise the existing infrastructure and procedures that the Finnish Air Force has perfected with their F/A-18 Hornets.
The UK aircraft that was used in the Finnish road operations is a Typhoon from RAF 41 Sqn, and is stationed at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.
There is also discussions about the F-35B showcasing similar operations in the UK. The F-35B, with its Short Take Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) capabilities, can operate from shorter road segments with ease. Reportedly, ‘The RAF plans to lay down aluminium AM-2 mats along a strip of road up to 1,500 ft. long, allowing the F-35B to perform short takeoffs and vertical landings without damaging the underlying road.’
The Finnish road base exercise in Pohjois Savo saw British Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon fighters and Norwegian F-35 fighters showcasing their prowess. ‘They are practicing the approach and landing at the Tervo road base,’ explained Lt. Col. Rami Lindstrom, who spearheaded the exercise. The F-35, being an ‘air force plane’, requires a longer runway than the Hornet.
The Norwegian F-35s, which flew directly from Norway for the exercise, were particularly intriguing for the Finns. This was their first landing on a Finnish road base. The Finnish Air Force is set to receive its first F-35 fighters in 2026.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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