Typhoon fighter jets have landed and taken off from a regular road for the first time, proving the RAF can outmanoeuvre adversaries at a moment’s notice.
Two of the RAF’s front line jets took off in Tervo, Finland, from a single-lane road. It is usually used for normal road traffic but specially designed as an emergency landing strip to sustain aircraft activity if required.
The RAF is focusing on ways to outmanoeuvre an adversary to survive an attack, disperse to remote locations and continue operating with minimal support.
The RAF used to operate from unusual locations such as roads and fields during the Cold War, in order to make its aircraft harder for the enemy to find.
Defence sources explained such exercises were being conducted because of Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.
It has “reminded the West of the need to be able to disperse our aircraft and be more unpredictable”, they said.
This is the first time the RAF has taken part in Exercise Baana, an annual exercise by the Finnish Air Force and now part of its routine flying training. The Norwegian Air Force also took part for the first time.
The Officer Commanding of 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron was one of the two pilots to take part.
He said: “This is an opportunity to work with one of our newest NATO partners on an exercise in Agile Combat Employment. The Finnish have worked hard for decades on disparate operations should they be attacked and need to disperse their aircraft.
“Once we landed on the strip we stopped to refuel before taking off again, I couldn’t help but look around and think ‘I am sitting in a jet on a road in the middle of a forest in Finland’. That was pretty crazy and definitely a first.”
A small number of RAF personnel were on the ground to refuel and maintain the aircraft to ensure they could continue operating.
The second pilot, Jim, said: “This is a great step forward for RAF Typhoon capability. We often talk about capability being the stuff that we fly with such as weapons and sensors.
“What is great about this is it’s a novel way of employing the jet, improving our survivability against modern threats and operating from dispersed locations, and also doing that while working closely with our allies who are absolutely critical to future operations.”
The RAF Typhoons were operating out of Rissala Air Base and Tervo Road Base for these trials.
Defence sources added that they provide the opportunity to expand the combat air knowledge and practices of using Emergency Landing Strips and dispersed operations.
They added that the UK and Finland enjoy a close defence relationship as NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force allies, and often train and deploy together on exercises around the world.
Finnish troops also work side-by-side with the British Armed Forces to train Ukrainian recruits in the UK.