The Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) began their main annual exercise across parts of southern Finland on Monday. The week-long war games are taking place in the Uusimaa region, including the Helsinki area, as well as on the Gulf of Finland through December 4.
Some 9,000 people are taking part, including conscripts, reservists and FDF staff. Dubbed Uusimaa 17, the exercises will bring troops and military vehicles into residential areas, while Hornet fighter jets will fly overhead and ships cruise near the coast.
Under the simulated scenario, forces will try to defend the capital region and nearby coastline during a quickly-changing crisis in coordination with civilian officials.
Nuclear and harbour authorities join in
Troops from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Defence Command and Border Guard are participating, along with police, customs and rescue department officials plus the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), the Finnish Transport Safety Agency and the port of Vuosaari.
"It is necessary to be able to respond to multi-level threats in seamless cooperation with the Defence Forces’ different actors and other authorities," says the Army commander, Major General Petri Hulkko in an FDF handout.
Manoeuvres in Helsinki will be concentrated in the eastern neighbourhoods of Laajasalo and Vuosaari, as well as the neighbouring municipalities of Espoo, Sipoo and Vantaa, as well as Järvenpää, Kerava, and Tuusula to the north, Porvoo to the east and Kirkkonummi and Siuntio to the west.
Troops may also be seen further west in Uusimaa around the Dragsvik military base on the Hanko peninsula as well as in and around Kimitoön, Lohja, Mustio and Upinniemi, as well as the nearby archipelago.
Hardware on show
Military hardware buffs may spot vehicles including Leopard tanks, Patria Pasi armoured personnel carriers and CV9030 infantry fighting vehicles. Plying maritime districts are Hämeenmaa-class minelayers, Katanpää-class minehunters, Rauma and Hamina class fast attack missile craft along with a flotilla of smaller vessels.
Overhead, more than 10 aircraft are taking part, including Hornet and Hawk jets, helicopters and drones. From the Tikkakoski, Halli, Pirkkala and Rissala airbases, they will be flying over built-up areas, including over Helsinki, between 8 am and 9 pm daily through Sunday afternoon.
The exercise troops’ motor marches may hamper traffic on roads across a broad swath of southern Finland from Kouvola to Kemiö, through Wednesday.