HELSINKI, Finland: Finnish authorities have announced that for one week in September, Finland will close a stretch of one of its major highways so that its air force can practice takeoffs and landings on a road that serves as a reserve runway during wartime.
In recent months, the Nordic country has significantly increased its military training as it applies for membership in the NATO alliance as a result of its eastern neighbor Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After facing an invasion by the Soviet Union in World War 2, Finland has been preparing its military for a possible attack by Russia for decades.
In a statement, the Finnish Air Force Academy said, “The Air Force regularly rehearses relying on places beyond its home bases in order to be able to spread the aircraft rapidly across the country, if need be.”
In the 1960s and 1970s, Finland established more than a dozen emergency landing strips on highways around the country, but due to potential inconveniences to traffic, its Defense Forces have not practiced on the main South-North roads for decades.
Regional manager Jari Mikkonen of the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment said closing down a 2.8-mile section of the E75 arterial highway in southern Finland will send some 7,000 cars on an hour-long detour every day.
The drill will take place during the last week of September, involving some 200 military staff, F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, older Hawk Mk 51 trainer planes and other military aircraft.