The British Air Force has sent fighters to Sweden and Finland for training exercises as part of Britain’s “increasing presence in the region” following its application to join the NATO military alliance, the Ministry of Defense (MoD). ) Announced.
The ministry said in a statement that two F-35Bs and four typhoons conducted “high-end combat training” using Finnish F-18 Hornet and Swedish Gripen aircraft.
Last month, a deployment at the request of the host country allowed the three air forces to “strengthen their ability to develop joint tactics and cooperate with each other,” emphasizing Britain’s commitment to strengthen collective defense capabilities. .. Sweden and Finland, MoD said.
Defense Minister Ben Wallace called the two countries “important defense partners” and welcomed NATO’s application for accession, saying “we will strengthen the alliance by facing new threats in Europe.”
“These deployments highlight our determination to strengthen that partnership and enable our troops to work together seamlessly,” he said.
The joint exercise “strengthens the ability to work together to respond to a crisis in the neighborhood,” said Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hartkuvist, “especially important in today’s harsh security environment.”
New NATO ally
The United Kingdom signed a Mutual Security Assurance Declaration between Sweden and Finland in May. The two countries are also members of the United Kingdom-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a coalition of ten countries working together to maintain the security of Northern Europe.
The joint exercise was part of a series of bilateral and JEF exercises planned this year at the request of Finland and Sweden, MoD said. Later this month, the UK will deploy the F-35B in Norway for further integrated training with the Norwegian Air Force.
On July 5, NATO’s 30 allies signed the Finland and Sweden accession protocols, and once Parliament ratified the decision, they were able to join the alliance. This is the most important expansion of the alliance since the 1990s.
Finland shares a long border with Russia and Sweden shares a maritime border with Russia. The Nordic countries have resisted NATO membership for decades before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dramatically changed the security situation in the region.
PA Media and Reuters contributed to this report.