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Finnish Air Force to participate in NATO missions in Romania in summer 2024

Air Force
Publication date 26.4.2024 15.10
Press release
Two F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets
Two F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets. Photo: Finnish Air Force / Karelia Air Wing / Fighter Squadron 31

The Finnish Air Force will deploy a detachment of F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets to Romania in summer 2024 as part of Finland’s contribution to NATO’s collective peacetime missions.

NATO’s peacetime air defence tasks are carried out through the Air Policing and Air Shielding missions. Member states’ air forces surveil and protect the integrity of Allied airspace through the standing Air Policing mission. The Air Shielding mission, on the other hand, consists of an increased presence of fighter jets and ground-based air defence units in NATO’s eastern member states. The tasks of the fighter detachments participating in the Air Shielding mission include quick-reaction alert duty, patrol flights under the command of NATO’s integrated air and missile defence, as well as exercise activities and maintaining the collective deterrence of the Alliance. 

Fighter detachments from Allied air forces have taken part in the Air Shielding mission with deployments ranging from a few weeks to several months. Finland will participate in NATO missions for the first time in Romania in summer 2024 together with the Royal Air Force. The Finnish detachment, consisting mainly of Karelia Air Wing’s active-duty personnel, will deploy to the Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base, which is located in southeastern Romania near the city of Constanța.

Increased presence in Romania, Bulgaria and the Black Sea region

NATO’s Air Shielding mission complements the capabilities of the Romanian and Bulgarian air forces in the Black Sea region. Finnish F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets will contribute to the mission from 3 June to 31 July 2024. Quick-reaction alert (QRA) duty and patrol flights will be carried out by armed fighter jets equipped with air-to-air missiles, cannons and countermeasures systems. The Finnish F/A-18 Hornets will be QRA duty on alternate weeks with the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon jets.

The Finnish detachment deploying to Romania will consist of a maximum of eight F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets and 100 airmen. The personnel will be rotated during the summer, in order to provide practical experience in cooperation with Allies to as many airmen as possible. 

‒ The increased presence of air defence assets in the Black Sea region is part of NATO’s basic idea that all Allies prepare to support each other in maintaining collective defence and deterrence. By participating in the Air Shielding mission for the first time, we are doing our part to strengthen NATO’s cohesion and to enhance interoperability with Allies, says Commander of the Finnish Air Force, Major General Juha-Pekka Keränen.  

‒ For the Finnish Air Force, the objectives of the deployment are to enhance our integration into NATO air power, to further deepen bilateral cooperation with the Royal Air Force, and to develop our capability to operate from an Allied air base, Maj Gen Keränen continues. 

In addition to QRA duty and patrol flights, the Finnish detachment in Romania will fly training missions in accordance with the F/A-18 pilots’ flight training programme, and participate in Allied exercise activities. For example, the Finnish fighter jets will take part in NATO Allied Air Command’s Ramstein Legacy 24 exercise, which will take place in Romanian and Bulgarian airspace in June.