The Finnish Air Force has again achieved the same status as NATOs tactical fighter units, as the only non-NATO member in the world. During the last week of September the Finnish Air Force’s expeditionary unit convinced a NATO team of 100 evaluators at Rissala base in Kuopio.
It means that in times of crisis Finland can integrate its alert fighter force flying the F/A-18 Hornet directly into NATO’s operations, based on the alliance’s so-called TACEVAL (Tactical Evaluation) program. The evaluation showed that the expeditionary unit – designated the Finnish Air Force Rapid Deployment Unit Fighter Squadron, or FRDFFSQN – is ready to fight. The unit normally holds a 60-day readiness.
The personnel of the expeditionary unit was recruited among the Finnish Defence Forces active-duty personnel and reservists. A number of conscripts also participated in training for a range of tasks with the Force Protection Flight and Logistics Flight.
The Finnish Air Force expeditionary unit has experienced the NATO evaluation once before. It was in 2009 when the unit passed the evaluation process as the first non-NATO air force unit. The final evaluation took place in Germany. Finland is still the only non-NATO country which has a fully capable fighter unit verified by the TACEVAL program.
See Finnish F/A-18 Hornets with RNoAF F-16s and Swedish Gripens
(footage Finnish Air Force)