What can Finland’s armed forces and arsenal offer the trans-Atlantic alliance?

A photo shows the empty mast ahead of a flag-raising ceremony for Finland's accession to NATO, in the Cour d'Honneur of the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on April 4, 2023. - Finland becomes the 31st member of NATO on April 4, in a historic strategic shift provoked by Moscow's war on Ukraine, which doubles the US-led alliance's border with Russia. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Finland joined NATO on Tuesday, bringing the Western defence alliance significant military capabilities developed over the years.

Homeland defence willingness against a superior enemy is at 83%, one of the highest rates in Europe. The Finnish Defence Forces cooperate closely with the Finnish Border Guard. The Finnish Border Guard has its own yearly and long term investment budget.

Finland is one of few European countries to have retained a conscription army through decades of peace, wary of its eastern neighbour Russia after the former Soviet Union tried to invade Finland during World War Two.

Finland is ranked 51 of 145 out of the countries considered for the annual Global Firepower review. The nation holds a Power Index score of 0.8099 with a score of 0.0000 being considered exceptional in the GFP assessment. This country is an Active Member of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliance.

Finland’s ground, naval and air forces are all trained and equipped with one primary aim – to repel any Russian invasion.


Finland trains some 21,000 new conscripts every year, who then become part of its war-time reserve of 280,000 soldiers of whom some 10,000 a year are called up rotationally to refresher courses.

Some 870,000 Finns aged between 17 and 60 are liable for service in case of need. The contract staff consist of 12,000 people, 8,000 of them military personnel.

The Ground Force is equipped with some 650 tanks, around 200 of them being German-made Leopards types 2A6 and 2A4.

Finland has what it calls “Western Europe’s strongest artillery” that includes some 1,500 weapons: about 700 howitzers and cannon, 700 mortars and about 100 heavy and light rocket launchers.

It is also introducing an Israeli-made ELTA counter-battery radar system which provides it with the ability to locate and track incoming rockets, artillery shells and mortar fire.

Finland’s anti-aircraft equipment consists of at least 650 missiles but it is in the process of buying more from Swedish Saab Dynamics and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

Its most important anti-aircraft system is the NATO-compatible Norwegian-American NASAMS 2. It has also anti-aircraft cannon and tanks designed for the same purpose.

It is in the final stages of a tendering process for a new high-altitude anti-aircraft system which it will buy either from Israel Aerospace Industries or Rafael Advanced Systems.

Finland has an undisclosed number of unarmed Orbiter drones and is in the process of purchasing 1,000-2,000 more, including hundreds of Parrot Anafi USA drones, similar to those used by the U.S. army.

The infantry holds enough firearms – assault rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons – for the entire reserve, but also all necessary gear for fighting in harsh winter conditions as well as night vision systems and gas masks.

Finland destroyed some 1.3 million anti-personnel mines after it joined the Ottawa mine ban convention back in 2012 but has since replaced that capability with remote-controlled smart mines and area denial systems.

The military holds an extensive range of transport vehicles, with wheels and caterpillar bands, both for men and equipment.


The Finnish Air Force has a fleet of 61 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, which are being replaced by 64 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II jets, the delivery of which will begin in 2026.

In addition to the jet fleet, the Air Force has dozens of training aircraft and surveillance radars, including ones that have a range of almost 500 km (300 miles).


The Finnish Navy has four command vessels, five minelayers, eight missile craft, three mine countermeasure vessels, 13 mine sweepers, in addition to smaller landing craft.

It is acquiring three new multi-role corvettes for surface combat which are currently under construction in Finland to enter service by 2029.


According to the Association of Finnish Defense and Aerospace Industries, AFDA is a cluster of 130 member companies representing the Finnish companies operating within defence, aerospace and security.

Turnover within defense, aerospace and security was approximately 1.84 billion Euros in 2020, which was a slight increase of the previous year.

The Finnish defense, aerospace and security industries focus on certain niche areas. Finland is home to global market leaders in armored wheeled vehicles, turreted mortar systems, logistics and certain C2 systems. Finnish companies are also world-leading within C5ISR. Dual-use products with security solutions and civilian applications are becoming increasingly important.

Major defense manufacturer are Patria, SAKO, Nammo, Sisu Auto, Valtion Kivääritehdas, Ballistic Protection Burgmann Oy and Valmet.

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