RAF jets deployed to NATO applicants Finland and Sweden as presence increased

Royal Air Force fighter aircraft have conducted integrated, high-end warfighting training with Finland and Sweden, following both nations' applications to join NATO.

The RAF deployments took place over the last month as Russian aggression on European soil has continued to push the defence-neutral countries closer to the military alliance.

Strengthening their ability to operate alongside the countries, two F-35Bs and four Typhoons worked with Finnish F-18s and Swedish Gripen aircraft.

The exercises fall under a series of drills – some bilateral and others under the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, a coalition of 10 nations co-operating to maintain Northern European security.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "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. 

"These deployments highlight our determination to enhance that partnership and ensure our forces can work together seamlessly."

The aircraft received support from specialists at RAF Marham and RAF Lossiemouth, as well as air-to-air refuelling from a Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton.

RAF fighter aircraft deploy to Finland and Sweden for joint training 11072022 CREDIT RAF MOD.jpg
The deployments are a practical demonstration of the mutual security assurance declarations that the UK signed with the nations in May (Picture: RAF/MOD).

Swedish defence 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 particularly important in today's challenging security environment."

The F-35Bs arrival was of interest to Finland, which recently announced that it will purchase the F-35 aircraft.

Later this month, the Lightning jets will be sent to Norway to conduct similar joint training.

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