In a bid to counter the rising threat from Russia, air force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark said on Friday (March 25) that they signed a letter of intent to create a unified Nordic air defence. The air force commanders had first discussed the closer cooperation at a meeting in Sweden in November last year.
“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 in a statement.
Speaking to the news agency Reuters, Major General Jan Dam, the commander of the Danish air force, said that the move to integrate the air forces of the Nordic countries was triggered by Russia’s offensive in Ukraine in February last year. Major General Dam added that the combined fleet could be compared to a large European country.
Reuters reported on Friday that Sweden has over 90 Gripens jets; Norway has 57 F-16 fighter jets and 37 F-35 fighter jets with 15 more of the latter on order, and Finland has 62 F/A-18 Hornet jets and 64 F-35s on order. Denmark, meanwhile, has 58 F-16s and 27 F-35s on order.
However, it was unclear how many of these aircraft were operational.
The signing at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany last week was attended by NATO’s Air Command chief General James Hecker, who also oversees the US Air Force in the region, the news agency reported.
Norway and Denmark are already members of NATO. Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO last year and Finland is expected to join the inter-governmental military alliance within weeks. Sweden, on the other hand, is facing a delay due to resistance from Turkey and Hungary.