“That was pretty crazy”: a Typhoon fighter pilot has become the first to land and take off from an ordinary road as the RAF explores new ways to outmanoeuvre an enemy in battle.
Two RAF frontline jets landed and took off from the single-lane road, usually used for normal traffic, in Tervo, Finland. The purpose of the exercise was to train pilots how to survive an attack, disperse to a remote location, and continue flying with little ground support.
The training comes as the conflict in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion enters its 20th month. The RAF has said the situation in Ukraine “reminds us all of the need to be able to disperse our aircraft and be more unpredictable”.
One of the unnamed pilots who landed the first jet said: “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.”
The second pilot added: “This is a great step forward for RAF Typhoon capability. We often talk about capability being the stuff that we fly, with such [things] 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 exercise was also the first time that the RAF had taken part in Exercise Baana, an annual routine training exercise undertaken by the Finnish Air Force. The Norwegian Air Force also took part.
The Typhoons were operating out of Rissala air base and Tervo road base in Finland. The bases allow the RAF to expand pilots’ combat knowledge by using emergency landing strips.
The RAF said the UK and Finland enjoy a close defence relationship as Nato and Joint Expeditionary Force allies, often training and deploying together on exercises around the world.
Finnish troops also work alongside the British armed forces to train Ukrainian recruits in the UK.