US F-15 fighter planes arrived at the Finnish air base Rissala on Friday where they will take part in joint training flights with Finnish fighters. They will also participate in the Finnish-Swedish exercise Cross Border Training (CBT), as reported by Yle.
It is the first time that American fighters will be based on Finnish territory. Earlier, US aircraft took part in flights within the framework of exercises in the air space of the country, but without taking off and landing from Finnish airfields.
Eight F-15s, one air refueller and 150 servicemen arrived in Finland, reported Yle. Flights of the aircraft belonging to the Oregon Air National Guard will begin on May 9 and last till May 20.
According to Yle sources, the Finnish Defence Minister Niinistö could not or would not clarify the unexpected visit of the American fighter jets when asked at a defence committee this week. The same went for his Special Adviser.
Earlier on Friday, Left Alliance defence committee member Markus Mustajärvi told Yle that the visit is being planned at the United States' initiative.
This was later confirmed by Foreign Minister Timo Soini, who said: "In foreign and security policy we of course have good cooperation with the US, which is in line with the government program."
The "Friends of the Earth" movement said that on Monday they plan to picket the air base in order to promote Finnish neutrality.