Norwegian F-35 fighter jets land on a Finnish highway

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The Norwegian F-35A takes off from a highway in Finland for the first time. Photo © Ole Andreas Vekve, Norwegian Armed Forces

In a significant milestone, two Norwegian Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jets made a historic landing on a highway in Tervo, Finland. This event marked the first time an F-35A had landed on a highway.

Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Norwegian Air Force, emphasised the importance of this achievement for both the Air Force and NATO, highlighting the aircraft’s unique characteristics, which enable it to operate from various locations. Finland’s recent NATO membership made it a vital partner for the Norwegian Air Force, given its infrastructure of straight and wide motorways that can aid the dispersion concept in war scenarios.

The dispersion concept aims to increase the survivability of fighter planes by using small airfields and now also motorways to make it more challenging for enemies to target them when on the ground.

The landing on the Finnish highway followed a joint exercise with Finnish F-18s, and the jets underwent “hotpit refuelling,” allowing for a quick turnaround for new missions.

In the broader context of Nordic cooperation in military air operations, with Finland joining NATO and Sweden expected to follow suit, the region is playing a big role in coordinating NATO’s deterrence in northern areas. While the F-35B variant had previously landed on highways, this was the first time the F-35A had done so, expanding its operational capabilities.

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