Finland to deploy F-35 fighter jets near Santa Claus village — RT World News

The first US-made plane is expected to arrive in the Nordic country in 2026

The country’s air force revealed that Finland will deploy the first batch of new US-made F-35 fighter jets to the country’s northernmost region, Lapland, when Helsinki receives the aircraft in four years, the country’s air force This disclosure.

On Friday, Brigadier General Juha-Pekka Keränen, commander of the Nordic nation’s air force, said that “The first squadron of F-35s will enter service with the Lapland Air Force in Rovaniemi in 2026.The airbase in question is located seven kilometers north of the city of Rovaniemi, on the Arctic Circle, which is famous for the village of Santa Claus. This is the northernmost base of Finland where fighter aircraft are located.

In December 2021, Helsinki announced its decision to purchase a fleet of 64 F-35 stealth fighters to replace its aging F/A-18 Hornets. The first F-35s are expected to arrive in Rovaniemi in 2026, with the rest of the fleet expected to be operational by 2030.

If Finland’s application to join NATO, which Helsinki submitted on May 17, is approved, the military alliance’s number of F-35s in northern Europe will increase significantly, as NATO member Norway has already received 34 out of 52 new aircraft. While the majority of Norway’s F-35 fleet is based at Orlando Air Force Base in the south of the country, some aircraft are stationed north of the Arctic Circle, at Evenes Air Force Base, as part of the force. NATO Rapid Response Alert (QRA).

On Thursday, two F-35s flew from that base to intercept two Russian planes over the Barents Sea, which did not violate Norwegian airspace.

If Finnish F-35s based at Rovaniemi base also became part of the coalition’s QRA force, it would take less time for them to intercept simulated Russian military planes flying towards them. west of the Kola Peninsula. However, this scenario is not one and Finland’s F-35s could be tasked with guarding the country’s 1,340km land border with Russia, while its Norwegian counterparts. they will continue to serve as part of NATO’s QRA force north.

On Friday, Finland’s Defense Minister, Antti Kaikkonen, revealed that Helsinki would invite “partnerCountries conduct more military exercises. The exercise, which is expected to begin this summer, aims to bring the Finnish army more in line with NATO standards as well as “express specific support for Finland“While that country is in the process of applying to join NATO.

A neutral country for decades, Finland dramatically changed its strategy of joining the military alliance following Russia’s attack on Ukraine in late February. When applying to join NATO, the Finnish government explained that it saw this as a deterrent against potential Russian aggression. Several opinion polls conducted in the country also indicate that 75% of Finns currently support joining NATO.

The general perception of Finland as a neutral country can end up being wrong, as the European Union High Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen, a Finnish citizen, told German media group RND today. Monday.

Finland was not really neutral. Over the years we have integrated more and more into the West,“The official explained. After Finland joined the EU in 1995, joining NATO was “a natural next step,According to Urpilainen.

Russia, for its part, insists that it has no plans to attack its neighbour, and describes Helsinki’s decision as illegitimate.

Moscow has warned that if Finland joins NATO, Russia will have to increase its military presence in the north of the country and take commensurate measures to ensure its security.

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