The F-35s will replace Finland’s aging fleet of Hornet fighter jets.
Lapland will be the first region to receive “next-gen” F-35 fighter jets, according to the Finnish Air Forces.
This is partly due to the airbase’s proximity to Norway, which also houses F-35 aircraft, according to Colonel Tuukka Karjalainen of the Lapland Air Command.
The jets are due to arrive up north by 2026, with Rovaniemi initially receiving two to six aircraft.
Finland’s northernmost air force, based in Rovaniemi, stages training missions with the Swedish and Norwegian air forces nearly every week.
The Finnish Air Forces announced the purchase of 64 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighters back in February in an 8.4 billion euro deal with manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
The multi-role fighters replace Finland’s aging fleet of Hornet Fighter jets, which is planned to be phased out by 2030.
North purges Hornets first
The Lapland Air Command will be the first to oust its Hornet aircraft, as having two fighter plane models operational simultaneously is too tricky to manage, according to Colonel Karjalainen.
A number of mechanics, pilots, and ground crew will be sent to the United States to complete training on the F-35s during 2025, after which they will return to Rovaniemi and begin training local military personnel.
New recruits in Rovaniemi will be trained to fly Hornets up until 2028-29, the Finnish Air Forces said.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Will Canada’s federal budget deliver for NORAD?, Eye on the Arctic
Finland: US military refuelling plane flies over Finland day after NATO announcement, Yle News
Greenland: Polar opposites? Greenland’s new coalition government, Blog by Marc Lanteigne
Norway: Will the green transition be the new economic motor in the Arctic?, Eye on the Arctic
Russia: Russia proceeds with Arctic project as oil embargo looms, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: March to join NATO ‘moving faster in Finland than it does in Sweden’, says expert, Radio Sweden
United States: U.S. Army poised to revamp Alaska forces to prep for Arctic fight, The Associated Press