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Nordic countries plan to create ‘Joint Air Defense’ to counteract ‘Russian threat’

Air Force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark signed a letter of intent this week to create a Unified Nordic Air Defense system to counteract the growing “threat emanating from Russia.”

The intention is to be able to operate jointly based on modes of action already known within NATO, according to statements by the armed forces of the four countries.

The move to integrate the air forces directly responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, Danish Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Jan Dam told Reuters.

Air Force commanders, Nordic countries plan to create ‘Joint Air Defense’ to counteract ‘Russian threat’
A Swedish Air Force Jas 39 Gripen E jet fighter flies over the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea (Photo internet reproduction)

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

Norway has 57 F-16 and 37 F-35 fighters, with 15 more on order, while Denmark has 58 F-16s and 27 F-35s on order.

Finland, meanwhile, has 62 F/A-18 Hornet fighters and 64 F-35s on order. Finally, Sweden has more than 90 Gripens.

It is unclear how many of those aircraft are operational.

“We would like to see if we can integrate our airspace surveillance more, so we can use radar data from each other’s surveillance systems and use it collectively,” Dam said.

“We are not doing that today.”

Air Force commanders, Nordic countries plan to create ‘Joint Air Defense’ to counteract ‘Russian threat’
An F-16CM fighter jet takes off from Kallax airport outside Lulea, northern Sweden (Photo internet reproduction)

The signing of the letter of intent at Ramstein Air Base in Germany last week was attended by NATO Air Command chief Gen. James Hecker, who also oversees the US Air Force in the region.

Nordic air force commanders first discussed air cooperation at a November meeting in Sweden.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland decided last year to apply to join the transatlantic military alliance.

Still, the process has been held up by Turkey, which along with Hungary, has yet to ratify its membership.

NATO membership requires the unanimous support of all NATO countries.

On Thursday, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö sanctioned the NATO membership laws passed by a large majority in the Eduskunta (Parliament), thus completing the last national procedure for approving accession to the Atlantic Alliance.

“Finland may join NATO before Sweden,” Niinistö said in an interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT.

“Should we have rejected the Turkish offer to ratify? That sounds a bit far-fetched to me. It would have been complicated if we had said ‘no’ to Ankara.”

On March 1, the Parliament approved the Nordic country’s accession to NATO with 184 votes in favor and seven against.

Thus, the accession process of Finland, which applied for membership last May at the same time as Sweden, will be completed once Hungary and Turkey ratify it, the only two NATO members that have not yet done so.

Air Force commanders, Nordic countries plan to create ‘Joint Air Defense’ to counteract ‘Russian threat’
Swedish Air Force Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter takes off during exercise AFX 18 at Amari military air base, Estonia (Photo internet reproduction)

After delaying the debate and subsequent parliamentary vote on the entry of both Nordic countries into NATO several times, Budapest recently announced that its Parliament would vote in favor of Finland’s membership next Monday.

For his part, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a week ago during a visit to Niinistö that his country will give the green light to Finland’s NATO membership.

However, for the moment, it is not known when the ratification process in the Turkish Parliament will be completed.

He anticipated Sweden’s entry “will take longer, if ever,” amid conflicts between Ankara and Stockholm.

The Finnish authorities want their entry into the transatlantic alliance to be completed as soon as possible to attend the NATO summit in Lithuania on July 11-12 as full members.

Helsinki’s initial goal was to formalize its accession with its neighboring sister, Sweden, but reluctance on the part of Hungary and, above all, Turkey, which accuses the Swedish government of harboring political dissidents exiled to Europe, is delaying Swedish membership.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the end of February that, although he supports integration, Sweden and Finland “have spread lies” about the state of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary.

For his part, Erdogan maintains for the time being his veto on Sweden’s accession for refusing to extradite persons whom Ankara considers to be linked to terrorist organizations, especially in the Kurdish sphere, and demands that negotiations continue.

With information from La Derecha Diario

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