RAMSTEIN, Germany - On September 21, two Norwegian F-35As landed on a highway in Tervo, Finland. This is the first time a Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jet landed on a highway.
With Finland's entry into NATO and Sweden's imminent membership, the Nordic countries have a particular responsibility for developing and coordinating NATO's deterrence in the northern regions
The fighter jets landed around 04:00 PM local time on a motorway in Tervo, after taking part in joint training with Finnish F-18s. Immediately after landing, refueling was carried out with the engines running - a so-called "hotpit refueling". Shortly after the F-35s took off and were ready for new missions.
The aircraft type is delivered in several variants. This Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 landing on a Finnish motorway is a first-time event for this aircraft type. The US has previously landed on highways with some of its F-35Bs, but this is a so-called STOVL version (short takeoff / vertical landing), which can land more or less vertically, for example on aircraft carriers and roads.
“This is a milestone, not only for the Norwegian Air Force, but also for the Nordic countries and for NATO. This demonstrates our ability to execute a concept of dispersal. Fighter jets are vulnerable on the ground, so being able to use small airfields – and now motorways – increases our survivability in war. In addition, this is also a demonstration of the exciting development we have initiated within the military-air cooperation in the Nordic region,” said Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
Major General Juha-Pekka Keränen, the Commander of the Finish Air Force and Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. Photo Courtesy The Finnish Air Force.
Norwegian F-35A performing "touch and go" on highway in Finland for the first time. Photo: Ole Andreas Vekve, Norwegian Armed Forces
Norwegian F-35A takeoff from highway in Finland for the first time. Photo: Ole Andreas Vekve, Norwegian Armed Forces
“F-35As operating out of Tervo road base verifies that the F-35 is suitable for the Finnish Air Force's dispersed operations combat method,” said Major General Juha-Pekka Keränen, the Commander of the Finnish Air Force.
The Arctic region carries significant strategic interest: maritime routes, resource access, climate conservation, and territorial claims, the High North is an important priority for NATO. NATO is increasing its presence and vigilance across the Alliance including in the High North. With strength and unity, NATO and the Allies continue to deter aggression, protect common values and interests, and keep people in the member States safe.
“With Finland's entry into NATO and Sweden's imminent membership, the Nordic countries have a particular responsibility for developing and coordinating NATO's deterrence in the northern regions” said Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.
The F-35 combat aircraft holds unique characteristics that make it one of the best combat aircraft ever built. Up until the summer of this year, the F-35 nations accumulated over 650,000 flight hours. The F-35 can operate from many bases and locations, but the limitations are related to how long the aircraft can operate without resupply of weapons, fuel and technical ground support. Allies who operate the F-35 are testing and practicing common solutions including Agile Combat Employment and Aircraft Cross Servicing procedures. This cooperation between Finnish and Norwegian Air Forces is one example.