Gripen on a short strip

One more step in Swedish/Finnish cooperation

Nordic cooperation, and in particular the in-depth cooperation with Finland, took one more step on Wednesday when two Swedish JAS 39 Gripen aircraft landed on a Finnish road base for the first time.

Finnish F-18 Hornet. Photo: Louise Levin/Swedish Armed Forces
Air Traffic Control at Hosio road base. Photo: Louise Levin/Swedish Armed Forces
The aircraft is ready and flight technicians note in the log-book how much fuel the Finnish staff pumped into the aircraft, among other things. Photo: Louise Levin/Swedish Armed Forces
Photo: Louise Levin/Swedish Armed Forces
Photo: Louise Levin/Swedish Armed Forces
The road is cordoned off and patrolled by Finnish soldiers to prevent unauthorized people or wild animals walking on the temporary runway. It looks rather bare in general. On the apron that the Swedish Gripen planes were directed to, there was only a generator and a portable toilet. Photo: Louise Levin/Swedish Armed Forces

The exercise for the Finnish Air Force, designated Baana 2015, took place during the week at Hosio road base. They were testing their new base concept during the exercise, where part of a normal road becomes a temporary runway. During the whole week they carried out a large number of "touch and go" manoeuvres, meaning that Finnish fighter pilots and cadets approach the road base, touch down and immediately take off again.

The 211th combat air division participated in this exercise with a pair of JAS 39 Gripen aircraft in the context of cross-border training. On the Wednesday, Gripen aircraft started out from Kallax with the goal of landing at Hosio road base.

According to the deputy chief of division, the flight posed no problems, but the approach needed much concentration due to overcast weather with low clouds. In addition, none of the pilots had seen the road base previously.

"We flew over the area at high altitude prior to carrying out a visual landing on the road," says Daniel Jannerstad, deputy chief of division at the 211th combat air division.

Landing visually means that pilots must have a clear view since there are no technical approach aids, which are normally provided at fixed air force bases for the Swedes.

Cooperation over a long time period

The Finnish and Swedish air forces have trained together since the early 2000s, with aviation exercises and exchanges of divisions. The first flight trials over the border took place as early as 2007, but yesterday's exercise was somewhat special. For the first time, Gripen pilots landed from a wing base on a road base - and in Finland.

"Completely in line with both the Swedish and Finnish political intention to broaden our cooperation. We have shown that we can implement this type of activity and work together with their base concept. A clear example of being able to enhance our own ability and create security in the vicinity with our Finnish colleagues at using small means," says Joakim Hjort, Chief of Staff at F 21, who was Chief of Contingency for the Swedish force in Finland during this exercise.

After landing, the pilots were in readiness waiting for take-off clearance for the joint flight as planned. As quickly as they had landed, they left the Hosio air base again - a historic moment.