Finnish Defence Forces testing quietly.

HELSINGIN SANOMAT reports a secret UAS testing program in Finland.

The Finnish Defence Forces are in the process of acquiring more unmanned aerial surveillance drones. In connection with the organised competitive bidding, different manufacturers’ models are being tested in Northern Finland this week.
Apparently, at least four different reconnaissance drone models are being put through their paces. The Finnish Border Guard is taking part in the testing of the systems.

For the time being, the acquisition of the aircraft is a real “hush-hush” project.
The Defence Staff and the Army Materiel Department are completely silent on the goings-on and the responsibility for disseminating information has been transferred to the Ministry of Defence.
Ministry of Defence Director of Public Policy, Jyrki Iivonen, remains tight-lipped with regard to the details of the on-going competitive bidding.

“I will not make any announcements prematurely. So far there is nothing to report. Only when we commence the selection process will we start giving out details about it.”

According to Iivonen, military acquisitions have customarily been announced only after a purchase has been agreed upon.

He admits, however, that unmanned aircraft are being tested and that this is part of the purchasing process.
”We are talking about improving our situation awareness. We are looking for unmanned aircraft to be used for air surveillance purposes.”
According to the Director of Public Policy, the reconnaissance drones acquisition forms a part of the process of replacing anti-personnel landmines.

“As it is no longer possible in a crisis situation to place landmines in an area for monitoring purposes, the surveillance has to be carried out through several other means. One such means is an unmanned aircraft that can be used to photograph the area.”

The acquisition of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft was already mentioned in the 2004 defence policy report. Military applications of such devices have become more and more common in various countries. The aim of the drones is to lower crew losses in crisis situations.

In 2001 and 2005, Finland acquired two Swiss-made Ranger air surveillance systems. They are used for surveillance, reconnaissance, and search and rescue purposes.
The Ranger drones have been equipped for example with regular and thermal imaging cameras.
Each one of the acquired systems includes six drones. They are stationed in the Niinisalo Artillery Brigade.