A NATO drone flew over Finland on Wednesday, marking the first time the alliance conducted reconnaissance operations over its newest member.
“NATO Air Forces continue to step up their reconnaissance missions on the Alliance’s eastern borders in the wake of Russia’s full-fledged war against Ukraine,” the alliance said in a statement.
The Alliance Ground Surveillance Force familiarized itself with the new terrain, piloting the unmanned Northrop Grumman RQ-4D over the country, which became a NATO member in April.
Inside Finnish Defense
The Finnish Defence Forces explained that the aerial operation was sanctioned under national control and supervision, in accordance with Finnish legislation.
The country said that the flight was an independent mission to raise joint situational awareness and strengthen national defense.
“There have been no recent changes in Finland’s military security situation or environment,” the press release read. “Flight operations with partner countries are planned and part of normal bilateral and multilateral cooperation.”
Former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb considered NATO membership a “done deal” the moment Russian troops invaded Ukraine last year.
The agreement adds a potent military force to NATO, providing its eastern border with a defense capable of protecting members from potential Russian attacks.
Helsinki confirmed that more flights will be conducted in Finnish airspace in the future, with both manned and unmanned flights slated to occur