The Royal Air Force (RAF) has deployed fighter aircraft to Finland and Sweden for joint tactics training exercises as part of an “increased presence in the region”.

The RAF said in an announcement that the deployments were requested by Finland and Sweden, and that the training allowed the partner air forces to develop their joint tactics and

strengthen their ability to operate alongside each other.

In the exercise, two F-35Bs and four Typhoon aircraft conducted high-end warfighting training with Finnish F-18 Hornets and Swedish Gripen aircraft, the RAF said.

According to the RAF, the deployments are a practical demonstration of the mutual security assurance declarations that the UK signed with the two countries in May, as they progress their respective applications to join NATO. 

The UK, Finland and Sweden already work together through the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, which is a coalition of 10 member nations who cooperate to maintain Northern Europe’s security.

“Finland and Sweden are important defense partners and we welcome their applications to join NATO, which will make the alliance stronger as we face a renewed threat in Europe,” Ben Wallace, UK’s Secretary of State for Defense, said in a statement.

“These deployments highlight our determination to enhance that partnership and ensure our forces can work together seamlessly.”

The exercises are also part of a series of bilateral and Joint Expeditionary Force exercises planned earlier in 2022 at Finland and Sweden’s request. The RAF said that the UK will also deploy the F-35B to Norway for further integration training with the Norwegian Air Force in late July 2022.