Nordic Countries Combat Growing Russian Tensions By Combining Air Forces

(AP Photo/Defense Ministry via Yonhap)

In a move that is sure to cause more tensions with Russia, the Nordic bloc of countries has struck a deal to operate their fighter jets as a single fleet.

Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland began making plans to integrate their fighter jet divisions after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year. Danish air force commander Major General Jan Dam told Reuters the combined fleet of approximately 250 jets now represents the capacity of fleets that might be maintained in any major European country.


The move to integrate the air forces was triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, commander of the Danish air force, Major General Jan Dam, told Reuters.

“Our combined fleet can be compared to a large European country,” Dam said.

Norway has 57 F-16 fighter jets and 37 F-35 fighter jets with 15 more of the latter on order. Finland has 62 F/A-18 Hornet jets and 64 F-35s on order, while Denmark has 58 F-16s and 27 F-35s on order. Sweden has more than 90 Gripens jets.

Dam also told Bloomberg that the goal is to help the air forces work as one unit, based on “already known NATO methodology.”

“The ultimate goal is to be able to operate seamlessly together as one force by developing a Nordic concept for joint air operations based on already known NATO methodology.”

Sweden and Finland have applied to join NATO following Russian aggression towards Ukraine. However, applications have been slowed as Turkey and Hungary delay their decisions for ratification. On Monday, Hungary finally approved Finland’s bid, moving them one step closer to official NATO status.


Hungary’s parliament on Monday approved Finland’s bid to join NATO, putting an end to months of delays and bringing the Nordic country one step closer to becoming a full member of the Western military alliance.

The measure, passed with 182 votes for and six against, came after Hungary’s government had for months frustrated allies in NATO and the European Union by repeatedly postponing the vote after nearly all other alliance members ratified Finland’s bid.

While the Nordic countries work to complete their NATO entry, Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously indicated he sees NATO’s expansion as a direct threat to Russia. Putin has used NATO expansion as a justification for his invasion of Ukraine. Conversely, Western nations say Putin’s recent aggression is the cause of NATO expansion.

Hungary’s move to accept Finland’s application is a big step forward from the nation’s previous opposition to both Sweden and Finland. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is pro-expansion for NATO, but has accused Swedish and Finnish politicians of telling “blatant lies” about Hungary’s political structure and democracy.


The Nordic air force agreement will be another point of worry for Russia. The Nordic nations are combining top-tier fighter jets. Norway, Denmark and Finland will provide F-35 jets, the most advanced and powerful in Western fighter jet technology. Norway currently flies F-35 jets, but Denmark and Finland have yet to put any into operation. They have committed to doing so over the next few years.


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