New Nato member Finland has been the testbed for Nato dispersed air force operations, as two Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoons in Finland performed the first landing of the airframe on a civilian road.
The aircraft touched down on a single lane-road in Tervo, according to an announcement from the RAF on 24 September.
Tervo was the site of another instance of pioneering aviation on 21 September, as an F-35A, flown by Royal Norwegian Air force pilots, made a conventional landing on a motorway before ‘hot-pit’ refuelling and returning to the skies.
Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, recognised the landing of F-35A fighters as “a milestone, not only for the Norwegian Air Force, but also for the Nordic countries and for NATO. This demonstrates our ability to execute a concept of dispersal.
“Fighter jets are vulnerable on the ground, so being able to use small airfields – and now motorways – increases our survivability in war. In addition, this is also a demonstration of the exciting development we have initiated within the military-air cooperation in the Nordic region.”
Finland joined Nato in April this year, bringing the expansive landmass to the north-east of Europe into the Alliance. Nato has taken this as an opportunity to test dispersed air operations, looking at the capability of existing Nato fighters improve their survivability by landing on small air strips and roads.
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“With Finland’s entry into Nato and Sweden’s imminent membership, the Nordic countries have a particular responsibility for developing and coordinating NATO’s deterrence in the northern regions,” said Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.
Finland has an existing dispersed operations combat method involving road base landings that it trials annually as a part of exercise BAANA. This year, in BAANA 23, aircraft from allied nations took part for the first time.
The Officer Commanding the 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron that oversaw the landing of the two RAF Typhoons on a single-lane Finnish road, praised the exercise for providing “an opportunity to work with one of our newest NATO partners on an exercise in Agile Combat Employment.
“The Finnish have worked hard for decades on disparate operations should they be attacked and need to disperse their aircraft.”
With so much at stake in the High North in terms of marine routes, resource access, climate protection, and territorial claims, Nato has made securing the area a top priority. The High North is seeing an increase in Nato’s presence and alertness, as the Allies continue to deter aggression and ensure the security of its member states.
“With Finland’s entry into NATO and Sweden’s imminent membership, the Nordic countries have a particular responsibility for developing and coordinating NATO’s deterrence in the northern regions,” said Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.