Two of the RAF’s frontline jets tested and proved the capability in Finland as part of Exercise Baana. The Finnish Air Force’s annual training exercise took place on a public road in Tervo, which is usually used for normal traffic but specially designed as an emergency landing.
The RAF is focussing on ways to conduct Agile Combat Employment to outmanoeuvre an adversary – to survive an attack, disperse to remote locations and continue operating with minimal support.
The Officer Commanding of 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron was one of the two pilots to take part. He said: “This is an opportunity to work with one of our newest NATO partners on an exercise in Agile Combat Employment. The Finnish have worked hard for decades on disparate operations should they be attacked and need to disperse their aircraft.
“Once we landed on the strip we stopped to refuel before taking off again, I couldn’t help but look around and think ‘I am sitting in a jet on a road in the middle of a forest in Finland’. That was pretty crazy and definitely a first.”
A small number of RAF personnel were on the ground to refuel and maintain the aircraft to ensure they could continue operating.
The second pilot, Jim said: “This is a great step forward for RAF Typhoon capability. We often talk about capability being the stuff that we fly with such as weapons and sensors.
“What is great about this is it a novel way of employing the jet, improving our survivability against modern threats and operating from dispersed locations, and also doing that while working closely with our allies who are absolutely critical to future operations.”
The RAF used to operate from unusual locations such as roads and fields during the Cold War, in order to make our aircraft harder for the enemy to find, Russian aggression in Eastern Europe has reminded us of the need to be able to disperse our aircraft and be more unpredictable, so why we are completing exercises such as this.”
This is the first time the RAF has taken part in the exercise, which is now part of the Finnish Air Force’s routine flying training. The Norwegian Air Force, also taking part for the first time, tested their Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II aircraft.