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.

Screenshot from YouTube and PilotPhotog

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.