Finland closes major highway to conduct air force drill

Finnish Air Force

Finland closed one of its major highways so that the Finnish Air Force could use a section to test its ability to operate from improvised road bases. 

Finnish pilots and technicians regularly train on motorways to be capable of quickly dispersing across the country if their home base becomes compromised. 

This year, for the Baana 22 exercise, the Finnish national road 4, which connects Helsinki to the northernmost parts of the country, was closed from September 25 to 30, 2022. The forest at the edges of the road was also cleared in preparation for the exercise. 

Around 200 servicemembers were involved. The participating aircraft were mostly F/A-18 Hornet fighters, Hawk jet trainers and Pilatus PC-12NG liaison aircraft.  

“The objectives of flight training are to perform take-offs and landings based on the flight training syllabus at a road base in day and night-time conditions and to enable operational pilots to conduct advanced training flight,” the Finnish Air Force explained in a statement. “Aircraft maintenance personnel and reservists will be trained to establish a road base and carry out their activities there, including support and rescue tasks.” 

Dispersed operations allow an air force in wartime to complicate enemy targeting by multiplying operating locations. The concept, popular during the Cold War-era, found renewed interest in the doctrines of western armed forces.  

“The threat from Russia or the actions from Russia with the cruise missiles and ballistic missiles (in Ukraine) proves that the concept of dispersed operations is right,” Colonel Vesa Mantyla, the head of the Finnish Air Force Academy responsible for the exercise, told Reuters. 


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