In recent years, Finland has increasingly moved toward NATO. So, from June 9 to 22 this year, the Finnish Navy took part in the annual multinational large-scale exercises of NATO countries and the BALTOPS 2019 alliance partners in the waters of the southern Baltic Sea and the coastal territories of the participating countries. The exercises were held for the 47th time and became unprecedented in the number of participants.
According to the Swedish Ministry of Defense, this year about 12 thousand people, 44 warships and more than 40 combat aircraft and helicopters from 18 countries participated in the maneuvers: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In the course of the exercise, the tasks of air defense, mine clearance and the fight against submarines of a conditional enemy, as well as elements of several landing operations, were worked out.
A feature of the BALTOPS 2019 exercises was that it was led by the commander of the 2nd U.S. Fleet, formed in 2018, Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis from the board of the USS Mount Whitney command ship. These are exclusively NATO exercises, but this year the Navy of Finland and Sweden, non-aligned Scandinavian states, took part in them.
Formally neutral Finland expands its military cooperation with NATO countries and Sweden from year to year. In January 2008, Sweden, Finland and NATO member Norway created the Northern Combat Group. This group is one of several tactical units operating within the framework of the new defense policy of the European Union. These mobile groups should move to areas of potential conflict within a few days. The Scandinavian unit consists of 2,800 soldiers from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Ireland. The group is armed with armored personnel carriers, transport planes and helicopters. The headquarters of the Northern Combat Group is located at the Swedish military base Uppland.
The Finnish army, according to experts, fully complies with NATO standards. It has about 35 thousand regular forces and up to 900 thousand reserves, 60 combat aircraft (fighters - the Finnish copy of the American RA 18), about 250 tanks and other military vehicles, more than 40 ships of various displacement (the basis of the Finnish fleet is boats) . But these forces are clearly not enough to compete with such a supergiant as Russia. Therefore, joining NATO's more than three million forces is a very powerful argument used by supporters of NATO membership in Finland.
Finland has also joined NATO’s strategic transport aviation development program and is participating in other NATO programs. Moreover, Finland raised the level of bilateral military cooperation with individual members of the NATO bloc, primarily with the United States. Thus, the USS Mount Whitney command and control ship at the end of the BALTOPS 2019 3 exercises was on a visit to the port of Helsinki on July 6. It is characteristic that the presence of headquarters ships of the US Atlantic fleet in the waters of Finland was not in the entire history of US-Finnish relations.
These and other events show that the process of Finland’s involvement in NATO’s military preparation orbit is in full swing and without the formal entry of Helsinki into the North Atlantic Alliance.
The desire of the Finnish Navy to step up operational training and build up its combat potential in the Baltic Sea cannot but cause concern, because this country is not only a potential subject of NATO military potential in the east, but also our closest neighbor. The entry of our northern neighbor into NATO is fraught with very serious consequences for the security of all of Europe. After all, Finland has territorial claims against Russia. We are talking about a number of islands in the Gulf of Finland, the Karelian Isthmus and the whole of Karelia, that is, a return to the situation on January 1, 1939.
Along with Finland’s participation in NATO’s operational training programs and activities, Finland’s Navy is also reinforcing its anti-submarine capabilities, including the adoption of Swedish anti-submarine torpedoes.
According to media reports, the Finnish Navy is planning to equip its four Hamina missile boats with Swedish anti-submarine torpedoes during the modernization scheduled for 2019 2021. Thus, the Finnish fleet will again be armed with anti-submarine torpedoes for the first time since World War II.
Repair and modernization of four missile boats of the Hamina type is carried out as part of the Laivue 2000 program, which complements the Laivue 2020 program, which involves the construction of four new multi-purpose corvettes. They are also expected to be armed with anti-submarine torpedoes.
Four Finnish missile boats of the Hamina type with a total displacement of 274 tons were put into operation in 1998 2006 and now make up the combat core of the Finnish Navy. The hull of Hamina type boats is made of aluminum stealth technology, and the superstructures are made of reinforced composite carbon fiber. The shape of the vessel was designed specifically to reduce radar visibility.
The ship’s hull has virtually no steel parts, which creates a very weak magnetic field. The residual magnetic field is actively suppressed by the electromagnetic system installed on the ship.
The power plant of the boat is equipped with two diesel engines MTU 16V 538 TB93 (Germany) with a capacity of 5520 kW, each of which is connected via a drive to reversing jet propulsion Rolls Royce Kamewa 90SII. This solution allows them to work in very shallow water, including speeding up and slowing down movement, as well as making turns with greater maneuverability than ships equipped with screw propellers.
Hamina-type missile boats are currently undergoing medium repairs and upgrades that will be completed by 2020. The cost of modernization is estimated at 190 million euros. Before the modernization of missile boats such as Hamina, anti-submarine weapons were not carried. According to the Swedish side, an agreement was signed between Helsinki and Stockholm to develop Tp type anti-submarine torpedoes by Saab Dynamics. 47. According to the agreement, the new weapons will go to the Finnish military in 2023 2025. The acquisition of anti-submarine Swedish torpedoes is included in the procurement plan of the Finnish armed forces.
As for the desire of the Finnish Navy to have a modern high-tech anti-submarine torpedo in service, there are no legal restrictions. From the point of view of international law, Finland, as a sovereign state, has the right to use various conventional weapons systems to ensure its national security. The main thing is that the anti-submarine torpedoes planned for adoption by the Finnish Navy are equipped not with nuclear, but with conventional equipment, which does not violate the restrictions established by the fundamental international security treaty - the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.