Northern Composure - Janesin artikkeli Suomesta


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As Europe's NATO nations have been forced to adjust their defence posture in response to Moscow's increasing propensity for belligerence in recent years, non-aligned Finland is perhaps more used to dealing with its Russian neighbour, with whom it shares a 1,340 km border.

Having fought two wars against the Soviet Union during the Second World War, Finland's military posture is inevitably geared towards defending against attack from the east.

Being an EU member but retaining its military non-aligned status, Finland has since 1994 been part of NATO's Partnership for Peace programme and has always been active in international peacekeeping efforts, often alongside NATO forces.

Meanwhile, as NATO's newer members in Eastern Europe - and the Baltic region in particular - have grown increasingly nervous with regard to Moscow's intentions of late, Finland has found itself working more and more in parallel with the alliance. On 9 November 2016, on the occasion of Sauli Niinistö making the first ever visit by a Finnish president to NATO headquarters in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg cited Finland as "one of NATO's closest partners" and added that Finland and the alliance "have been able to develop a very close partnership on a range of different issues, including planning for civil emergencies, and security in the Baltic Sea region". He continued, seemingly with Russia in mind: "We are now expanding our co-operation when it comes to information exchanges on hybrid warfare, co-ordinating exercises, and developing joint situational awareness."

Theoretically it might seem that a country as small as Finland, with a population just under 5.5 million, would struggle to develop an effective defensive strategy to counter Russia's military might. In the 1940s, however, the Soviet Union was made to pay dearly for the Finnish territory it advanced into and Finland's current military posture is very much about ensuring that would remain the case today.

It is very much down to its experiences in the Second World War that Finland's military model today is one of the few worldwide where conscription actually works, for it is accepted by all Finns that society as a whole is responsible for the nation's defence. As Lieutenant General Seppo Toivonen, commander of the Finnish Army, explained to Jane's during a visit to the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) at the end of last year: "In the 1960s, as with countries like Sweden, we created the total defence model, where all parts of society are responsible to prepare themselves for crisis, and we have kept that model and improved it.

"Our training times are quite short: leaders [at] less than a year; basic soldiers [at] five-and-a-half months. So Finland's very good school system is the backbone of Finland's defence capability. The FDF has a close connection to society."

Conscription, the general explained, also brings the FDF, especially the army, the large reserves forces that it needs in order to make its defence model viable.


Finland ordered 20 NH90 TTHs in 2001, but because of delays to the programme a large number of these were delivered in a pre-production configuration. These aircraft are now being retrofitted to full operational capability standard, with redeliveries running until 2018. (Airbus Helicopters)

Regarding the latter Lt Gen Toivonen noted: "That is a very good combination, especially now we are developing a kind of special operations task group. Of course the NH90s have task they provide the army and other services, but there is a new integration between the special forces and helicopters."

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Although Finland produces a number of its own weapon systems - from the 7.62 RK 62 and 7.62 RK 95 TP local variants of the Soviet AK-47/AKM assault rifle to the Patria 155 mm K 83-97 and K98 towed howitzers - in the past it has relied substantially on a number of older Soviet-designed artillery systems, some of which have already been retired. In terms of self-propelled howitzers (SPHs), for example, Finland's Soviet-built 152 mm 2S5 Giatsint-S systems have already been taken out of service, leaving around 72 Soviet 122 mm 2S1 Gvozdika systems.

For the FDF, however, heavy gun and rocket artillery systems are vital to the national defence strategy, since they allow an invading enemy force to be degraded by indirect fire before they actually make direct contact with the defending Finnish forces. Retaining the army's heavy artillery capabilities has, therefore, been a key modernisation requirement. Yet while the cost of acquiring such systems could easily an expensive process, the Finnish Ministry of Defence has displayed a very pragmatic approach to meeting its requirements within a relatively modest budget with a strategy that involves keeping a keen eye out for relevant equipment that becomes surplus to other armies' requirements.


A Finnish MLRS unit opens fire during manoeuvres in the FDF's Rovajärvi exercise area in November 2016. Finland's MLRSs are among the most sophisticated such systems deployed worldwide. (IHS Markit/Peter Felstead)

A key example of this came in 2004 when, rather than procuring new systems off the shelf, the FDF bought the Royal Netherlands Army's entire fleet of 22 227 mm M270 Multiple Launch Rockets Systems (MLRSs) second hand, along with pods of Phase I unguided rockets, to attain a system with longer range than the FDF's older 122 mm RM-70 (Rak H 89) multiple rocket launchers. Germany then provided Finland with Phase II MLRS rockets containing anti-tank mines as well as training rockets.

Subsequently, in May 2011, original M270 manufacturer Lockheed Martin was awarded a USD45.3 million contract to upgrade the Finnish MLRSs to the M270D1 standard, allowing them to fire 70 km range Guided MLRS rounds as well as well as Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rounds, which provide a precision effect out to 165 km. The company provided kits to enable Finland's M270 launchers to be upgraded in country under a technical assistance agreement with Millog. With the exception of the US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)-variant MLRS system, the Finnish MLRS units are among the most sophisticated such weapons in use worldwide.


Finnish troops on a live-ammo exercise in the FDF's expansive Rovajärvi exercise area in November 2016. (IHS Markit/Peter Felstead)

Then, in mid-2012, it was stated that Finland had made a formal request to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency for the acquisition of 70 ATACMS Block 1A unitary missiles at a total value of USD132 million, including associated parts, equipment, logistics and training. Finland is procuring 40 MLRS missile pods for its M270s. Of these 15 will be armed with the M31A1 Unitary Missile (90 missiles in total) and 25 with the M30A1 Alternative Warhead Missile (150 in total). It is not known whether these missiles have been delivered yet.

News of another cost-effective Finnish artillery acquisition came on 17 February when the Finnish MoD confirmed it would buy 48 former South Korean Army K9 Thunder 155 mm self-propelled howitzers for EUR146 million (USD155 million): a deal that includes training, spares, and maintenance, as well as including options for the procurement of additional K9s. Deliveries of the K9s are due to begin this year and be completed by 2024, with Finnish conscripts due to begin training on the K9s in 2019.


A Hanwa Techwin K9 Thunder 155 mm self-propelled howitzer undergoing trials in Finland in November 2016. The FDF is buying 48 former South Korean Army K9s at a cost of EUR146 million, the country's MoD confirmed on 17 February. (IHS Markit/Peter Felstead)

Speaking to Jane's on 20 February, an FDF source said the K9 was already compatible with all the FDF's existing 155 mm ammunition types, including its conventional LU111 high-explosive ammunition and its Nexter/BAE Systems Bonus Mk II top attack projectiles. Finland is also currently in discussions with Nammo to buy new extended-range 155 mm high-explosive rounds, according to the same source.

The K9s will replace Finland's Soviet-designed 2S1 SPHs, which date from the early 1970s and, as Colonel Pasi Pasivirta, the army's inspector of artillery, described them to Jane's , are "practically a towed gun in a tank" because they lack a sophisticated fire-control system and so "you have to do all the same preparation when you fire it as you would do with a towed gun". This severely limits the 2S1's ability to relocate to different firing positions - the 'shoot-and-scoot' tactics required to evade enemy counter-battery fire - and means the K9s, which can fire 360° and have a range of 40 km, will introduce a step change in capability over the old 1970s technology they will replace.

Col Pasivirta calculated that eight K9s can achieve the same firepower effect as 18 towed guns.

Regarding the Finnish Army's shrewd second-hand buys, Lt Gen Toivonen explained that "even before the crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, we were buying surplus materiel", noting that the latest such acquisition involves 100 second-hand Leopard 2A6 MBTs, also from the Netherlands. The delivery of these started in 2015 and is expected to conclude in 2019, the acquisition having been deemed a more cost-effective upgrading of the Finnish Army's MBT fleet than paying for the modernisation of its originally 124-strong force of Leopard 2A4s, which were originally built in the 1980s and acquired as surplus from the German Army in 2003 and 2004, when they replaced Finland's Russian-built T-72M1s.

Overall, Lt Gen Toivonen believes the used systems bought by the Finnish Army "have been a cost-effective way to create quite good capabilities. Some of the [second-hand systems purchased] need modernisation, but, for instance, the Leopard 2A6 is in very good condition and all we are thinking of is looking at is the next generation of ammunition, which we'd have done anyhow."


The Finnish Army's Soviet-era D-30 towed 122 mm field guns fall into the category of 'old but still useful'. Because of their novel three trail legs the D-30s can fire in any direction and thus cover a large area. They are also a relatively easy for conscripts to train on and the Finnish Army still has plenty of ammunition to fire from them. (IHS Markit/Peter Felstead)

Meanwhile, the Finnish Army still continues to make use of weapon systems that Lt Gen Toivonen refers to as "old but still useful materiel", including its old Soviet-era D-30 towed 122 mm field guns. As Col Pasivirta explained to Jane's , because of its novel three trail legs the D-30 "can fire 360° and thus covers a large area, we have plenty of them and it's light and easy to use, and we have plenty of ammunition from East Germany". Col Pasivirta additionally noted that the army's older field guns - which include 130 mm M-46s and 155 mm M-83s as well as the D-30s - are still ideal for use by regional troops as long as they are widely dispersed in their battery positions to reduce the effect of any counter-battery fire.


A Finnish Army Soviet-era 130 mm M-46 field fun conducting a live-fire exercise in the FDF's Rovajärvi exercise area in November 2016. The Finnish Army's older field guns are still ideal for use by regional troops as long as they are widely dispersed in their battery positions to reduce the effect of any counter-battery fire. (IHS Markit/Peter Felstead)

The army has also decided that retaining and upgrading its 110 Soviet-designed BMP-2 tracked infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) - a fleet similar in size to the army's more modern fleet of 102 BAE Systems CV9030 IFVs - is a worthwhile venture, given the increased cross-country mobility that tracked AFVs offer (the army also has around 500 Patria-built armoured personnel carriers of various types, including 62 very capable Armoured Modular Vehicles [AMVs], but all of these are wheeled).

"For us [upgrading the BMP-2s] makes sense because there is still a long lifecycle left in them," said Lt Gen Toivonen, "but of course you need modernisation to keep the effectiveness on the battlefield."

Looking to other weapon systems, Lt Gen Toivonen noted: "We've recognised the artillery and anti-tank weapon systems that will be obsolete, either related to their ammunition or because they are not effective enough on the modern battlefield. In some of the systems the manufacturer doesn't guarantee anymore the use of those weapons. We're trying to find how the money allocated to us will bring us new capabilities that will last into the 2030s."

The Finnish Army's older infantry anti-tank systems - the APILAS and M72A5 - are being replaced over the medium term (i.e. by 2025) by the Saab Next-Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) and the Nammo M72 Enhanced Capacity (EC) LAW respectively, while the army's obsolescent 95 S 58-61 recoilless rifles remain in limited use. Jane's was told in November that these weapons are not being discarded yet, since there is still plenty of relatively modern ammunition for them, but that they are somewhat cumbersome and no longer considered appropriate for front-line service.

Meanwhile, US TOW-2 and Israeli Spike missile systems continue to provide the Finnish Army with an effective mid-range (2.5-4 km) anti-tank capability.


The Finnish Army currently operates 18 Patria Hägglunds AMOS self-propelled twin mortar systems. The AMOS system provides a true 'shoot and scoot' capability and affords MRSI target engagement. (IHS Markit/Christopher F Foss)

Regarding more modern artillery systems the Finnish Army currently operates 18 Patria Hägglunds AMOS self-propelled advanced mortar systems that entered service from 2013. Comprising twin 120 mm mortars mounted on a Patria AMV chassis, the AMOS system provides a true 'shoot and scoot' capability, affords the mortar crew protection from small arms fire and shell fragments and affords a multiple-round simultaneous impact (MRSI) target engagement capability that allows up to 10 mortar rounds to hit a target at the same time. Lt Gen Toivonen made it clear that he would like to procure more AMOS systems, but admitted that the cost of this is currently prohibitive unless the army can order more in conjunction with an export order that would bring down the unit cost. "AMOS is expensive," he noted, "but it provides an amazing capability."


A Finnish AMOS self-propelled twin mortar system attacking a target in the FDF's Rovajärvi exercise area in November 2016. (IHS Markit/Peter Felstead)

The FDF's helicopter fleet, comprising 20 NHIndustries NH90s in the tactical transport helicopter (TTH) configuration and seven older MD500s, has been operated solely by the army since 1997. While the NH90s are used for transport, airmobile operations, and search-and-rescue (SAR) tasks, the MD500s are used mainly for pilot training, but also for VIP/light transport and general utility tasks.

Finland first ordered its 20 NH90 TTHs in 2001, but because of considerable delays to the programme the FDF received a large number of aircraft in a pre-production configuration and did not receive the final helicopter until July 2015. Of the 20 Finnish NH90s now in service, 5 are initial operational capability (IOC) variants, 10 are IOC+ variants, and 5 are to the full operational capability (FOC) standard. The IOC and IOC+ aircraft are currently being retrofitted to FOC standard, with redelivery running until 2018.

In terms of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Finnish Army has since 2001 operated the RUAG Ranger reconnaissance UAV, eventually buying a dozen of these systems. In recent years, however, it has procured lighter, more portable Aeronautics Orbiter 2 systems from Israel. Jane's understands that around 120 of these systems have been acquired since 2014, with Lt Gen Toivonen noting that Orbiters are now in use in every Finnish Army unit.

Lt Gen Toivonen said that the army procurement of which he is personally the most proud has been the attainment of effective air defences, noting that "although they start with [Soviet-designed ZU-23-2 twin 23 mm anti-aircraft guns], they end up with NASAMS [the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System]".

The Finnish Army selected the NASAMS II in late April 2009 to replace its Russian-built Buk-M1 (SA-11 'Gadfly') SAMs. The system entered service in 2012, with deliveries of what Jane's understands was a total of 24 firing units completed in 2014.

The army is also in the process of replacing its Soviet-era Igla manportable SAMs with FIM-92C RMP Stingers bought and refurbished from ex-US Army stocks and refurbishing its Marksman anti-aircraft tanks. These systems, which feature twin 35 mm Oerlikon cannons and a Marconi Series 400 fire-control radar, are having their old Russian T-55 tank chassis replaced by Leopard 2A4 tank chassis. The first conscripts starting training with Leopard-based Marksmans in the second half of 2016.

Perhaps one of the most transformational systems currently being adopted by the Finnish Army is the M18 C3 system, which incorporates the Tactical Wireless IP Network (TAC WIN) mobile, high-data-rate tactical communication network produced by Finnish communications company Bittium. As Major Tommi Sikanen, from the Finnish Army's executive office, explained, this system will take the Finnish Army "into the next decade and beyond" in terms of its C3 capabilities and provide one of the biggest changes in the army in terms of situational awareness.

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A Finnish F/A-18 Hornet flying out of Norway's Bodø Main Air Station during the 'Arctic Challenge' exercise in 2015. The Finnish Hornet fleet has recently undergone an extensive mid-life upgrade and now has an air-to-ground capability in addition to its primary air defence role. (Norwegian MoD)

The primary instruments for defending Finland's airspace are currently the FAF's 55 Boeing F/A-18C Hornet fighters (the air force also has seven F/A-18Ds that are mostly used for training).

If an airborne target is detected within or approaching Finnish airspace and cannot be identified by flight plan correlation from civilian air traffic control data or other available information, the FAF's Air Operations Center (AOC) can scramble a pair of Hornets being kept on quick-reaction alert to intercept and identify the aircraft in question. As the FAF then put it to Jane's , the identifying pilot then "determines the nationality and tail number of the target and prevents it from infringing Finnish airspace if necessary". Finnish Hornets can be armed with AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) and/or shorter-range AIM-9X Sidewinder AAMs in additional to their internal cannons, while the pilots also have cameras to document any airspace violations, which are investigated by the Finnish Border Guard and their details published by the Finnish MoD.

Given Finland's border with Russia, there's no escaping the fact that all of the country's territory and airspace falls within the range of Russia's long-range surface-to-air and surface-to-surface weaponry. Asked what efforts the air force had made to mitigate against this, the FAF replied: "The Finnish Air Force has operated in an environment with the possible threat posed by anti-access/area denial [A2/AD] assets, both on ground and in the air, for decades. The measures to mitigate the threat include, but are not limited to, the dispersal of aircraft and other assets to highway road bases and the employment of mobile tactics for the forces supporting the flight operations, including the air surveillance radars. Also, various other platform-specific tactics and countermeasures are employed. Mitigation of the A2/AD threat is an essential part of the training of air force personnel and reservists."

Looking to the future, the FAF launched a programme in October 2015 to replace its Hornet fleet from 2025 onwards. This effort, known as the HX fighter programme, is currently in the request for information (RFI) phase, with the air force noting that it received "thorough answers to its RFI from tenderers in November 2016". The candidates for the requirement are the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and Saab Gripen E/F. Regarding the parameters for making a selection from these candidates, the air force said it "is developing the operational concept and scrutinising the requirements for the procurement; therefore it is too early to state which qualities will be emphasised".

Meanwhile, the FAF's Hornet fleet has recently undergone an extensive two-phase mid-life upgrade (MLU) programme. The first phase was aimed at maintaining and improving the Hornets' air-to-air capability and was completed between 2006 and 2010. The most notable enhancement, however, came with the implementation of the second phase between 2012 and 2016, when the aircraft were given an air-to-ground mission capability and the FAF made associated purchases of short-, medium-, and long-range bombs and stand-off missiles. As of February 2017 the FAF has integrated the Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) medium-range glide bomb and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) smart bomb onto its F/A-18s and is currently in the process of integrating the Joint Air-to Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM). For this an FAF test flight contingent comprising two F/A-18Cs has been based at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California since April 2016. The JASSM integration work will be completed by the fall of 2017.

Asked if this new capability might herald any potential international deployments for Finland's Hornets, the air force replied: "After the air-to-ground weapon integration is completed, the primary mission of the FAF will remain as it is now. Air-to-ground weapons will strengthen the national defence posture and bring the air force new capabilities to support joint warfare of the air force, the army and the navy."

That said, the FAF does, in fact, have an expeditionary air unit, the Finnish Rapid Deployment Force Fighter Squadron (FRDF FSQN), which it stood up in 2009. Comprising approximately 200 troops and four F/A-18s, this unit "is to be used in the air-to-air role pending a national decision taken by the government of Finland", according to the air force, which noted that it has not been deployed outside of Finland so far, but has been committed to the NATO Response Force (NRF) Initial Follow-On Forces Group (IFFG) for the year 2018. The FDF added that, despite the Hornets' new air-to-ground capabilities, the FRDF FSQN "will retain its air-to-air mission".

Meanwhile, one area that does see the FAF internationally engaged is training, with Finnish aircraft taking part in several international exercises each year. For 2017 the biggest international exercise for the FAF is the 'Arctic Challenge' Exercise ('ACE'). Led by Finland and organised together with Norway and Sweden, this will take place from 22 May to 2 June in the northern areas of the three nations. The exercise is also open to partner nations and more than 100 aircraft from 12 nations, along with a NATO E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System component, will participate.

Close Finnish co-operation with Norway and Sweden will continue also in other areas of training, such as regular cross-border training (CBT) events organised by the three nations. During CBT drills aircraft from the three nations take off from their home bases and meet mid-air for cost-effective air combat training.

Finland and fellow non-aligned nation Sweden also have several forms of bilateral manoeuvres in the context of their FISE co-operation scheme, under which the FAF and Swedish Air Force have participated in each other's major air exercises since 2016. This year Sweden will send its aircraft to the FAF's 'Ruska 2017' air exercise in October and Finland will take part in Sweden's 'Aurora 17' exercise in September.

Since 2015 the FAF has also conducted training events with partner countries' air force assets deployed to northern Europe, including US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) aircraft deployed to the Baltic states and NATO aircraft participating in the alliance's Baltic Air Policing mission.

Regarding other matters in relation to the air force, a number of adjustments are currently being made to the FAF inventory. On 10 October 2016 if was announced that Finland was to purchase 28 Grob G115E aircraft second-hand from UK company Babcock International to replace the FAF's Valmet L-70 Vinka aircraft as its primary/preliminary trainer. In 2016 one Grob was delivered with the remaining 27 due to follow this year. The aircraft will undergo an avionics upgrade before entering service.

Meanwhile, the FAF operates an advanced jet trainer fleet consisting of various marks of BAE Systems Hawk - Mk 51s, Mk 51As, and Mk 66s - with several additional Mk 51s in long-term storage. The FAF was, in fact, the first export customer for the Hawk when it placed an order for 50 Hawk Mk 51s in 1977, later ordering an additional batch of seven Mk 51As in 1993. The Mk 66s, meanwhile, were procured with low hours from Switzerland from 2011.


The FAF operates an advanced jet trainer fleet consisting of various marks of BAE Systems Hawk and was, in fact, the first export customer for the type when it placed an order for 50 Hawk Mk 51s in 1977. (IHS Markit/Patrick Allen)

While all Mk 51As and Mk 66s underwent a modification and upgrade process from 2011-13, seven Mk 51s that have been in storage are currently the subject of a glass cockpit avionics modification and upgrade programme that is due to be concluded in 2018. From that point onwards, the FAF's Hawk advanced jet trainer fleet will consist of eight Mk 51s, seven Mk 51As and 16 Mk 66s, all with upgraded avionics.

Other FAF inventory adjustments will include the conversion of a signals intelligence (SIGINT) Learjet 35 to a straight utility role to join two other Learjet 35s already performing that task from 2018, while a SIGINT-focused F27 Friendship is currently being retired and replaced by an Airbus C295M-based SIGINT platform.

Lastly, regarding air surveillance radars, Jane's World Air Forces data states that Finland has at least eight mobile GM 403 (KEVA 2010) radars in service and five more on order (replacing the original KEVA radars). Asked about the status of the air force's radar systems, an FAF official replied that the number and locations of operational air surveillance radars in service is classified information and so cannot be disclosed. The official did state, however, that "together with KEVA 2010 and LÄVA [truck-mounted Giraffe-100 short-range] radars, the Finnish Air Force also has an inventory of Thomson TRS 22XX long-range surveillance radars procured in 1988 [ Jane's data says there are five of these]", adding that "the radars known in Finnish as Kaukovalvontatutka [KAVA] systems have recently undergone a mid-life upgrade".

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Primarily tasked with protecting Finland's 1,250 km coastline to the country's south and west, the Finnish Navy is a small force that in 2017 has a manpower strength of 1,400 regular personnel and 3,200 conscripts (with 18,000 reservists). The Finnish fleet is focused mainly on littoral warfare and currently consists largely of eight fast attack craft (FACs) and 15 mine warfare vessels.


The fast attack craft Nantali: one of four Raumi-class vessels in Finnish Navy service. (Freddy Philips)

However, in September last year the Finnish MoD authorised the initiation of the Squadron 2020 programme, which aims to procure four multi-purpose offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for an estimated EUR1.2 billion to replace the navy's four Rauma-class FACs and two Hämeenmaa-class minelayers, which are due to be retired by the mid-2020s. These OPVs will clearly extend the Finnish Navy's capabilities further offshore and will feature systems and weapons for anti-surface, anti-air, and underwater warfare.


The Hamina-class fast attack craft - missile (FAC-M) Pori. A mid-life upgrade of the Finnish Navy's four Hamina-class FAC-Ms under the Squadron 2000 programme is currently being defined. (Freddy Philips)

Asked about the progress with this programme, the navy told Jane's : "Currently the interested contractors are being evaluated. The ones to make it to the short list, presumably three, will be participating in negotiation rounds and the winner will be awarded the contract by the end of 2018. Rauma Marine Construction is tied to the programme with a signed intention to produce the ships at its yard located in Rauma, Finland."

Regarding other enhancements to the Finnish Navy's inventory, a mid-life upgrade of the force's Hamina-class missile-armed FACs under the Squadron 2000 programme is now at the stage of "defining the scope of delivery with Patria, the chosen contractor", according to the navy, which added that Patria will control the system provider network, including a Finnish shipyard to carry out the vessel upgrade. Alongside this the navy's SSM2020 programme continues to seek an anti-ship missile to fulfil the requirements of both the Squadron 2000 and Squadron 2020 programmes.

Meanwhile, a third Katanpää-class mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV), Vahterpää , was delivered to the Finnish Navy in Italy last November and arrived in the following month, while the delivery of 12 Jehu-class assault craft will be completed by July 2017, with navy units already training on the vessels delivered so far.

The navy also told Jane's that a programme for improving the firepower of coastal forces is underway, with a request for proposals having been issued.

While the Finnish Navy is largely focused on defending the country's territorial waters, it does, however, engage internationally with NATO and EU forces.

Last year, for example, part of NATO's 'Baltops' exercise, an annual maritime exercise held in the Baltic Sea region under the command of Naval Striking and Support Force NATO (STRIKFORNATO), took place in Finnish waters. Finland has participated in the exercise since 1993 and in 2016 took part with the minelayer FNS Uusimaa and a 160-strong coastal jaeger company from the Nyland Brigade.

FNS Uusimaa , in fact, can now be integrated into the NATO Response Force and will be on standby throughout 2017, having achieved the NATO Evaluation Level 2 (NEL-2) standard during the alliance's 'Noble Mariner' exercise in October 2016. Units with a NEL-2 evaluation are well known to NATO and can more easily be integrated into NATO operations.

Where the European Union is concerned, since December 2015 the Finnish Navy has participated in the EU Naval Force's Operation 'Sophia', tasked with countering human trafficking in the Mediterranean, and currently contributes eight personnel to the operation's headquarters (a Finnish boarding team having ended its mission in October 2016 as planned) under a mandate that extends until the end of 2018.

It is also worth mentioning that the Finnish Border Guard, which comes under the Finnish Interior Ministry as opposed to the MoD, is operating with Frontex: the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Having deployed the OPV Merikarhu to the waters off Greece between January and May last year under Operation 'Poseidon Rapid Intervention', a mission to interdict people trafficking in the Aegean, the vessel has returned for a second tour of at least six months this year, arriving in Greece on 21 March.



Finland is of one the few countries where, because of its history and society, conscription not only works but makes an essential contribution to the national defence and the strategic concept of 'total defence'.

This, in combination with a number of shrewd defence procurement decisions over the last decade or so, has ensured that the Finnish Defence Forces not only present a credible deterrent to any external aggression but also punch above their weight on the international stage
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