Nordic Airpower Cooperation and Finland’s F-35 decision: Towards a New Era?

Policy brief

The Nordic states air forces have cooperated closely, especially after Russia reinvigorated its military posture in the region from 2007-2008. With regional security policy and military strategy becoming more closely integrated after 2014, this tactical activity has become a key part of an emerging strategic-level pattern of cooperation. Closer political and military integration has enabled regional security cooperation to proliferate across unit types and activities. With the introduction of new generation fighter aircraft in the short term, and future air combat systems in the longer term, cooperation is set to change, but given its dual imperative is bound to continue and expand as new avenues emerge. Especially, the continuation of CBT in the short and long term has both a tactical and strategic rationale. Finland’s decision to procure the F-35 Lightning II will enable even closer airpower cooperation in the Nordics and in a broader European and trans-Atlantic framework, both in peace, crisis, and armed conflict. System similarity with Norway extends to the JSM, which opens the possibility for joint development of this weapon system and its operational use. As such, the procurement sets the stage for closer collaboration at both the tactical, operational and military-industrial levels.