UK fighter jets training with future NATO allies Finland and Sweden

Six Royal Air Force fighter jets have flown to Finland and Sweden for joint training exercises, Britain's Ministry of Defence(MoD) has said.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the deployment, which came at the request of both nations, underlined the UK's commitment to strengthening collective defence capabilities.

The exercise also follows the countries' applications to join Nato following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Two cutting-edge F-35 jets are among the aircraft taking part. They are conducting "high-end warfighting training" alongside four RAF Typhoons, Finnish F-18 Hornets and Swedish Gripen aircraft, UK defence officials said.

The aim of the training exercise is to allow the three air forces to strengthen their ability to operate alongside each other, MoD explained.

Mr Wallace said Finland and Sweden are "important defence partners" and by joining Nato would "make the alliance stronger as we face a renewed threat in Europe".

"These deployments highlight our determination to enhance that partnership and ensure our forces can work together seamlessly," he added.

Swedish defence minister Peter Hultqvist said the training would "strengthen our ability to operate together in response to a crisis in our neighbourhood".

He said: "This is particularly important in today's challenging security environment."

The announcement came ahead of Finland and Sweden submitting formal applications to join Nato in June - a move which represented a major shift for two nations with long histories of wartime neutrality.

Both European Union countries are also members of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, a coalition of 10 nations.

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