Wednesday, April 01, 2009
YLE reports that the Finnish air force is getting ground attack capability. They're buying 200 millions worth of kit off the US Navy including long range air to surface missiles. They've been trying to get this stuff for some years, there has been both reticence from the Americans to sell the best stuff and political resistance in the Parliament. I remember reading a minority dissent to a parliamentary defence committee report from a Left Alliance MP who specifically argued that the airforce is for defence and therefore didn't need ground attack capability. This is a bit of "duh!" arguement if you think about it, but reflects a general pacificist/neutralist strain that remains very strong in the Finnish body-politic.
Anyway, the Defence Forces will be pleased. Last year a prominent British analyst pointed out that Finland still has the biggest artillery force in Europe, 500 more big guns than the UK has. This was meant to be a criticism but tends to get a "yeah, and...?" response from Finnish defence professionals for what they take to be completely self evident reasons. Last year I put this 'criticism' to one of the most senior civil servants in the Ministry of Defence in Helsinki. He looked slightly shamefaced about it, a bit like a teenager caught wearing last years sneakers, but explained - "of course if we had long range air to surfaces weapons for the F-18s we wouldn't need so many". So dreams do come true (at least if you lobby hard enough), andGeorgia is on everyone's mind after last summer and that can't of hurt the MoD's case.