This premium article is exclusive to SOFREP+ Subscribers - Thank you for your support.
A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxis to an aircraft shelter on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Feb. 16, 2022 (DVIDS).
In late March, Air Force commanders from the nations of Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden pledged to create a joint air command. This joint air command will counter threats from Russia and restrict their provocative freedom of movement across the Baltic Sea.
This initiative is a significant deterrence instead of renewed imperial ambitions of Russia. Still, it also sends a message to other NATO members who have politicked veto power towards membership—Turkey being the highest case.
What is the Joint Air Command Initiative?
Initially talked about since the mid-nineties, the joint Baltic air command will be comprised of 250 modern frontline aircraft. It is unclear how many aircraft each country will allocate towards the initiative of this defense pact.
Norway currently has 52 F35 Lightning IIs, Denmark has 58 F16s with an order of 27 F35s, Sweden has 70 JAS-39s, and Finland has 64 F/A 18s with 64 F35s pending. It will be unclear when the joint air command will finally be operational, but the formal steps were taken with the signing of the agreement on March 24th.
How This Counters Russia
During Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has sent an overly aggressive posture towards the Nordic states. On March 2nd, 2022, four Russian bombers flew over Swedish airspace. It was later reported that the planes were carrying nuclear weapons as a show of force toward potential NATO ambitions.
With a joint command, the Nordic states will be able to coordinate violations over their air space and be able to defend against Russia’s modern fleet of aircraft, currently ranked second in the world per number of fixed-wing planes. Now that Russia’s fleet is taking heavy losses that will take years to replace, the Nordics will reciprocate by having a modern fleet of aircraft, such as the F35s that are created to counter Russian air defense systems and fleet power.
How This Benefits Sweden Against Turkey
Turkish and Swedish relations have not been the best for several decades. Stockholm has become a haven for Kurdish dissidents and anti-Erdogan activists and journalists. When Sweden applied for a joint NATO bid along with Finland, Turkey would take advantage of this.
Up until late March, Turkey had put off the vote for Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership bid to blackmail Stockholm into extraditing those wanted by Ankara. This stoked a major human rights violation, in which the court of Stockholm would reject any potential extradition as those wanted by the state would be brutalized and potentially killed. Not only did Turkey ask for former militant fighters of the PKK, but human rights activists and Turkish journalists who were critical of the state.
The White House has attempted to appease Turkey with the potential sale of F16s that was rescinded due to Erdogan’s rogue foreign policy. This was vetoed by Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Menendez who has refused to budge. Ankara also hinted that their hold over Stockholm’s membership was to get concessions out of Washington.
With the announcement of the joint air command and now with Finland ratified in NATO, this gives major security assurances to Sweden even if Turkey were to veto their membership. Moscow will now have to go past Helsinki to even attempt to reach Stockholm, putting a critical roadblock needed to shield a non-ratified state. Sweden is now surrounded by NATO members, effectively shielding the entire country with the world’s top military alliance.
The Nordic Air Force is not only a deterrence to Russia but a renewed path of military cooperation of Nordic states that strengthens the security of Northern Europe. With other NATO members now pledging to never be caught off guard again with plans to re-militarize and enhance capabilities, Moscow’s imperial dreams of ruling with fear over most of Europe continue to fade.
Experience news and stories of our veteran journalists with a SOFREP.com subscription! Sign up now and get exclusive access to unique and honest perspectives.
Barrett is the world leader in long-range, large-caliber, precision rifle design and manufacturing. Barrett products are used by civilians, sport shooters, law enforcement agencies, the United States military, and more than 75 State Department-approved countries around the world.
There are on this article.
You must become a subscriber or login to view or post comments on this article.