Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 and F-35B Lightning jets spent the past month in Finland, while Typhoon FGR4 jets flew to Sweden, for integrated fighter aircraft training as part of an increased presence in the region.
The deployments took place at the request of the host nations and allowed the partner air forces to develop their joint tactics and strengthen their ability to operate alongside each other.
Two F-35Bs and four Typhoons conducted high-end warfighting training with Finnish F-18 Hornets and Swedish Gripen aircraft.
The deployments are a practical demonstration of the mutual security assurance declarations that the UK signed with these nations in May, as they progress their respective applications to join NATO. All three nations already work together through the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, which is a coalition of 10 member nations who cooperate to maintain the security of Northern Europe.
Finland and Sweden are important defence partners and we welcome their applications to join NATO, which will make the alliance stronger as we face a renewed threat in Europe,” UK Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, said.
The F-35 deployment to Finland came after two US F-35A visited for an air show in June. The F-35B’s arrival was of particular interest to the Finns as they recently announced that they will purchase F-35 aircraft.
“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 neighborhood. This is particularly important in today’s challenging security environment,” Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said.
The fighter jets were supported by teams of specialists from RAF Marham and RAF Lossiemouth. A Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton also provided air-to-air refuelling to extend the duration of the combat sorties and an A400M Atlas deployed the support team to Sweden.
These exercises are part of a series of bilateral and Joint Expeditionary Force exercises planned this year at Finland and Sweden’s request. Later this month, the UK will deploy the F-35B to Norway for further integration training with the Norwegian Air Force.
The Typhoon Force also deployed aircraft to Konya in Türkiye for similar integrated fighter training with the Turkish Air Force, flying alongside Turkish, Pakistani, Jordanian and Azerbaijani aircraft in simulated combat scenarios. The Typhoons forward deployed from Romania where they are currently supporting the NATO Air Policing mission.