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RAF fighter jets deploy to Sweden and Finland in training exercises as NATO flexes muscles

The deployment included two F-35Bs and four Typhoons and was initiated at the request of the host nations. The planes took part in military exercises alongside Finnish-18 Hornets and Swedish Gripen aircraft. The pilots conducted high-end war fighting training, as the three air forces sought to strengthen their collective defence capabilities.

The UK has signed up to provide mutual security assurances to both Finland and Sweden as they complete the process to join NATO.

Defence officials said the exercises were a “practical demonstration” of that commitment.

Ben Wallace, the Secretary of State for Defence, said in a statement: “Finland and Sweden are important defence partners and we welcome their applications to join NATO, which will make the alliance stronger as we face a renewed threat in Europe.

“These deployments highlight our determination to enhance that partnership and ensure our forces can work together seamlessly.”

Peter Hultqvist, his Swedish counterpart, added: “Joint exercises, like the one here in Såtenäs, strengthen our ability to operate together in response to a crisis in our neighbourhood.

“This is particularly important in today’s challenging security environment.”

The F-35B is a single-seat fighter jet manufactured by the US aerospace firm Lockheed Martin.

It measures 15.6 meters, has a wingspan of 10.7 metres and has a top speed of 1.6 Mach.

The warplane costs around £89 million and is normally used to conduct missions and operations from the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

The UK originally planned to purchase as many as 128 F-35Bs.

However, those plans have since been revised following the Integrated Review.

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More recently, F-35B jets from the Royal Air Force landed in Estonia to support NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission along the alliance’s eastern flank.

Finland has announced that it is planning to purchase F-35 aircraft, as it beefs up its forces before joining NATO.

Helsinki and Stockholm decided to ditch their policy of neutrality in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Their decision was criticised by Moscow, who claimed it would have a “destabilising” effect in the region.

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said in June: “We condemn the irresponsible course of the North Atlantic Alliance that is ruining the European architecture, or what’s left of it.

“I have a great deal of doubt as to whether the upcoming period will be calm for our north European neighbours.”



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