The Finnish–US defence cooperation has developed significantly in the last 30 years. Finland’s decision to purchase F/A-18 Hornets in 1992 marked the beginning of the bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries.
The initial phase of cooperation was followed by a second phase of partnership, during which materiel and crisis management cooperation served as a foundation for deeper cooperation. The third phase of alignment and defence partnership greatly increased Finland’s military strategic importance in the eyes of NATO and the United States. The increase in military exercises and security political dialogue led to both countries developing their “collective defence” together. The transition to the third phase was made possible by a shift in the security political context, prior decisions related to defence cooperation, and a bilateral political will reflecting the national interest of both countries.
The fourth phase of cooperation – the phase of alliance – further increases the opportunities for deepening the bilateral defence cooperation. However, Finland’s decision to apply for NATO membership does not replace or reduce the importance of bilateral relations. Moreover, the defence relationship with Washington cannot be outsourced to NATO structures. In the future, the defence cooperation between Finland and the United States will most likely expand into a strategic defence cooperation that combines several areas of expertise.