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Ukraine conflict: Finland opens up airspace to allied ISR missions

A file photo of a USAF RC-135W Rivet Joint SIGINT aircraft of the type that flew the length of the Finnish-Russian border on 23 March. (USAF)

Finland is to allow intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft of “key international partners” to operate in its national airspace, it was announced on 23 March.

The announcement by the Finnish government coincided with a surveillance flight flown by a US Air Force (USAF) L-3 RC-135W Rivet Joint signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft that was seen on flight tracker services routing the length of the Finnish-Russian border.

“The Finnish Defence Forces [carried] out surveillance flights in Finnish airspace together with key international partners. The first flight [was] conducted in co-operation with the United States on Thursday, 23 March 2023,” the Finnish government said.

“There have been no changes in Finland's military security situation or environment in the recent past. Flight operations with international partners is part of normal bilateral and multilateral co-operation. The flights develop the interoperability of the Finnish Defence Forces, improve the common situational awareness and strengthen national defence. The flights show a mutual commitment to developing defence co-operation.

“For operational security reasons, the details of the flights cannot be published.

“Similar flights in Finnish airspace will be carried out in the future as well with different types of aircraft, both unmanned and manned. The flights are carried out under national direction and supervision, in accordance with Finnish national laws and regulations,” the announcement added.

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