The nations of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden serve as a northern bulwark against Russian aggression in Europe – creating a bottleneck for Moscow’s Baltic Fleet, while also potentially containing the Northern Fleet.
Last week, the air force commanders of those four countries also announced an intention to create a new unified Nordic air defense plan that could also help control the skies over the region to counter the rising threat from Russia.
The four partners agreed to a goal of operating their combined 250 fighter jets as a single fleet, Bloomberg first reported on Friday.
“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,” the Danish Air Force announced via a statement, per Bloomberg.
The air force chiefs from the four nations met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany last week for the official signing of the plan to create the unified Nordic force. It was also attended by NATO Air Command head General James Hecker, who also oversees the U.S. Air Force in the region.
Currently, Norway has fifty-seven F-16 Fighting Falcons, along with thirty-seven F-35 Lightning IIs, with fifteen more of the latter fighter on order. Denmark currently has fifty-eight F-16s, along with twenty-seven F-35s on order. Finland maintains a fleet of sixty-two F/A-18 Hornets and is set to acquire sixty-four F-35s, and Sweden currently has more than ninety JAS-39 Gripen jet fighters in service. Sweden currently operates the Gripen C and D variants and has modernized Gripen E aircraft on order.
“Our combined fleet can be compared to a large European country,” Major General Jan Dam, the commander of the Danish air force, told Reuters.
“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 them collectively,” Dam added. “We are not doing that today.
NATO Nations of the North?
The historically neutral nations of Finland and Sweden had each applied to join NATO in May of last year, spurred by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. That ended the two countries’ decades of “non-alignment,” yet, the respective bids to officially enter into the international alliance have been held up by Turkey and Hungry – as Ankara and Budapest have yet to ratify their memberships.
There is some irony that Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to use NATO expansions since the end of the Cold War as a justification for his invasion of Ukraine. That act has served to unify the alliance but has also resulted in increased defense spending across the continent.
It now appears that a mini-Nordic alliance will exist even if Finland and Sweden don’t officially join NATO. With more than 250 fighter aircraft it will be a sizeable force that can operate on Putin’s northern flank.
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Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.