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Apr 4 2023

Finnish flag raised at NATO Air Command

RAMSTEIN, Germany - Headquarters Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) marked the accession of Finland to the Alliance as its 31st member in a flag-raising ceremony on 4 April, 2023.
Finland is a great addition to our Allied Air Forces and will make a tremendous contribution to collective security in these times
AIRCOM leadership and staff assembled at the Headquarters on Ramstein Air Base on the afternoon of April 4 for a ceremony to celebrate the accession of Finland to the Alliance, during which the Finnish flag was raised as a visible sign of Finland’s integration to NATO.

"It is a great privilege to witness this historic ceremony welcoming our Finnish partners to the Alliance and Finnish airmen to the Headquarters," said General James B. Hecker, AIRCOM Commander. "AIRCOM has a long tradition of working closely with the Finnish Air Force, be it during exercises, training events or real-life missions. We are continually impressed by the professionalism of the Finnish Air Force. I was able to fly in a Finnish F-18 and see first-hand the superb skills of the leaders, pilots and ground crew at Karelia Air Command and Air Force Command Finland. They are a great addition to our Allied Air Forces and will make a tremendous contribution to collective security in these times," General Hecker added.

Allied Air Command personnel standing ready to attend the flag-raising  ceremony marking Finland's accession to the Alliance. 
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Steven Adkins.
Senior National Represenatative to AIRCOM, Col Antti Koskela, hands the Finnish flag to Air Marshal Johnny Stringer, Deputy Commander AIRCOM. Photo by Capt. Michael Crane.
The Finnish flag being raised for the first time at the compound of ALlied Air Command. 
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Steven Adkins.
Finnish Air Force F-18s haven long been flying alongside Allies during exercises and operations. 
Photo courtesy Finnish Air Force.
For over a decade, AIRCOM has worked with the Finnish Air Force during exercises and in support of NATO operations. The Finnish Air Force also participated in the NATO Response Force and regularly joins allied Air Policing aircraft during intercepts over the Baltic Sea. The Finnish Air Force has trained with Allied Air Forces applying NATO tactics, techniques, and procedures during the NATO-wide Steadfast exercise series and our AIRCOM-sponsored manoeuvres such as the Baltic Region Training Events, and Ramstein Alloy exercises.

"Due to the long-standing privileged partner relationship with Finland, the Finnish Air Force is extremely well prepared for integration into Alliance structures. I am proud to say that We are NATO and that now includes our Finnish Allies from today on," Gen Hecker concluded.

Finland joined NATO's Partnership for Peace Programme in 1994. It has been one of NATO's most active partners and a valued contributor to NATO-led operations and missions. Finland applied to join NATO on 18 May 2022. The Finnish Air Force has more than 62 F-18s and also ordered 64 F-35 fifth-generation fighter jets.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

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