British and Finnish jets have been flying together over Finland.
The aim of the training is to “strengthen shared security in the Baltic and High North”, say NATO.
#NATO Allies and Partners working ever closer together in Finnish airspace 🇫🇮
— NATO Air Command (@NATO_AIRCOM) July 1, 2022
The Barents Observer says here that it was last December that Finland announced it had chosen to buy 64 of the F-35 to replace the current fleet of F/A-18 Hornets. The first F-35s will arrive at Rovaniemi in 2026 and all 64, including those to be based further south in Finland, will be in operation by 2030.
With Finland’s decision to join NATO, the cross-border strength of the Alliance’s fleet of F-35s in northernmost Europe will be significant.
Recently, the Royal Air Force confirmed plans to purchase 74 F-35B jets adding that it is “possible” the UK may eventually have a fleet of 138 F-35s. The specific number was revealed by Air Marshal Knighton during a Defence Select Committee meeting:
“I have said this to the Public Accounts Committee, and I will set it out for Committee members here. We have on contract to deliver 48 F-35B aircraft. As part of our planning assumption in the IR and SR that we have just been through, we have assumed an increase of a further 26 F-35B aircraft, which would take the total fleet to 74.
We have said that the decision about further purchase, beyond that 74, will be taken in the middle of the decade, in the context of what we decide to do on our Future Combat Air System programme. It is perfectly plausible to imagine a situation in which we could have the fleet of 138 F-35s that we originally described back in the early 2000s.”
“We are in the process of negotiating that additional purchase beyond the 48 with the Joint Program Office and with Lockheed Martin. The Secretary of State has been very clear that the final commitment that we make to those aircraft will be dependent on the Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin demonstrating improvements in cost associated with support and the integration of UK weapons. But we have set aside the budget for that increase and for the additional infrastructure, support costs and people associated with it.”
You can read more here.