Nordic states are taking steps to deepen cooperation to protect regional airspace. An initiative to create joint fighter jet fleet of 250 aircraft is being discussed against the background of persisting tension in the region, caused by the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which poses threat to security of Scandinavian countries.
Measures to deepen cooperation between national air forces of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark are taken within the framework of the Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI), which was signed by the commanders of air forces earlier in March 2023. Previously the countries also took steps to integration – the creation of joint fighter jet fleet has been discussed by the Nordic governments since 1990s. However, the main obstacle on their way was the non-aligned status of Finland and Sweden, which prevented them from further discussions and joint military initiatives with NATO-members Denmark and Norway. The situation changed last year, when Finland and Sweden decided to join the alliance.
Apart from creation of the joint fighter jet fleet the JDI involves deepening cooperation and coordinating the work of the air forces of the four Scandinavian states in various situations, as well as stimulating joint initiatives to strengthen regional air defense.
“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,” Denmark’s air force said.
The Declaration also includes the Air-Defense Operations Concept, which proposes the development of an integrated management structure for planning and executing air operations. It also envisions joint Nordic air force cooperation developed along four principal lines of action:
- Joint command and control of the air forces;
- Development of a flexible and sustainable support system;
- Joint air situational awareness;
- Joint training and exercise activities
Maj. Gen. Rolf Folland, the chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, views the idea as a basis for creating a joint Nordic center for air operations that could also house the United States and Canada under a single command structure.
“There is obvious interest in a regional initiative for a joint air command on NATO’s northern flank. We know the conditions in the High North well, and we have a lot to learn from each other. With a total of almost 250 modern combat aircraft, this will be a large combat force that must be coordinated,” Folland said.
Sources: Finland Air Force, Bloomberg