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The Finnish Air Force (FAF, FiAF) (Ilmavoimat, "Air Forces"), is the air force of Finland. It was founded in 1918 and known as Ilmailuvoimat until 1938.


World War I and interwar era[]

The Finnish Air Force was founded during the Finnish Civil War in early 1918 as the flying branch of the White Guards, although the opposing Red Guards also had their own flying corps. It bought its first aircraft, a N.A.B. Albatros on 20 February 1918, but a Thulin Typ D donated by Swedish count Eric von Rosen entered service before it. The Thulin was painted with von Rosen's personal symbols of luck, blue swastikas, which became the FAF's first insignia. Initially the FAF relied mainly on captured Russian aircraft and then on German aircraft, until Germany was defeated in World War I. Later the FAF began to briefly favour French aircraft until ceasing to prefer any particular country in the mid-1920s. Attempts to become self-reliant by developing indigenous aircraft like the IVL Haukka in the FAF's own aircraft factory Ilmailuvoimien lentokonetehdas (Aircraft Factory of the Air Force, IVL, later Valtion lentokonetehdas, State Aircraft Factory, VL) were not successful.

As the threat of a new World War grew in the late 1930s, the FAF high command argued over whether they should build a strictly defensive air force that relies almost entirely on fighters, or buy Bristol Blenheim bombers that could provide the FAF tactical offensive capabilities. The latter suggestion won, and the FAF ordered 18 Blenheim Mk Is while the Valtion lentokonetehdas built 15 more under licence. This decision limited the amount of fighters the FAF could buy, and has been retrospectively viewed as a mistake.

1024px-Finnish air force roundel 1934-1945 border

The FAF insignia from 1918-1945.

600px-Roundel of Finland

FAF roundel.

World War II[]

On 30 November 1939 the Soviet Union attacked Finland in what became known as the Winter War. The Soviet AF had the advantage in both the number and performance of its aircraft, but the FAF pilot training was considered to be superior. The FAF's only decent fighters were 40 Fokker D.XXIs, although even they were obsolescent. Still, the FAF managed to hold back the Soviet aerial offensives quite well, claiming 218 kills for the loss of 62 aircraft to all causes.

In June 1941 the FAF was much better equipped, as Finland invaded Soviet Union together with Germany. New Brewster B-239 fighters secured air superiority, claiming to achieve a kill ratio of 32 to 1. In 1941 the FAF bought captured Soviet bombers from Germany, received Dornier Do 17s in 1942 and bought Junkers Ju 88 bombers and new Messerschmitt Bf 109Gs in 1943. However, from 1943 the Soviet AF again achieved an advantage in aircraft quality, as new aircraft deliveries from Germany had stalled. In summer 1944 the Soviets launched a major offensive and smashed through the Finnish lines. The FAF fought with at a disadvantage, but helped to prevent the Finnish Army from collapsing completely. The war ended in September 1944, when Finland was forced to accept peace.

The blue swatika insignia was replaced with a roundel in 1945 due to political reasons, even though the FAF swastika had nothing to do with the Nazi swastika. The 1947 Paris Peace Treaty (now expired) limited the FAF's size to 60 combat aircraft and 3,000 men, and prohibited it from owning bombers with an internal bomb bay, stripping the FAF of its offensive capabilities.

Cold War[]

During the late 1940s and early 1950s the FAF was stuck with its old Bf 109s that couldn't realistically fight jet fighters like the F-86 Sabre or the MiG-15. Finland declared political neutrality, which made both NATO and the Soviet Union reluctant to sell advanced combat aircraft to it. Furthermore, Finland was still relatively poor, and recovering from World War II, so the FAF could only buy cheap, obsolescent aircraft like the de Havilland Vampire. Over time Finland was more and more often viewed as a Soviet satellite state in the West. In the 1960s the Soviet Union wished Finland to act as a buffer against a possible NATO attack, and agreed to sell new MiG-21F fighters in 1963. They became the FAF's first potent combat aircraft since the Bf 109Gs in 1943. They were supplanted by second-hand Saab J35 Drakens from early 1970s onwards.

The 1980s were a decade of liberal spending, as the FAF bought 50 BAe Hawk Mk51s from UK and 30 Valmet Vinkas. However, the end of the Cold War in early 1990s and a great depression limited the spending, but the FAF nevertheless ordered 64 McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornets to replace the MiG-21Bis and Saab Draken.

Current inventory[]

Fixed-wing aircraft[]

Aircraft Role Number In service Country of origin Code letters
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet Fighter 62 1995- USA HN
BAe Hawk Fighter trainer 75 1980- UK HW
Valmet L-70 Vinka Basic trainer 1980- Finland VN
Grob G115E Basic trainer 28 2016- Germany GO
Pilatus PC-12 Light transport 6 2010- Switzerland PI
CASA C-295M Medium transport 3 2008- Spain CC
Gates Learjet 35 Transport 3 1982- USA LJ


The helicopters officially belong to the Ground Forces.

Aircraft Role Number In service Country of origin Code letters
NHIndustries NH90 Transport 20 2008- EU NH
Hughes MD500 Multi-purpose 7 1975- USA HH

Retired aircraft[]

The FAF has operated a wide range of aircraft from various countries.

Fixed-wing aircraft[]

Aircraft Role Number In service Country of origin Code letters Notes
Adaridi AD 3 Experimental 1 1924-1931 Finland
Aero A-11 Reconnaissance 8 1927-1939 Czechoslovakia AE
Aero A-32 Bomber 16 1929-1944 Czechoslovakia AEj
Airspeed Envoy Transport 1 1942-1943 UK EV
Albatros C.III Multi-purpose 2 1919-1921 Germany
Avro 504K Trainer 1 1926-1930 UK AV
Avro Anson Bomber trainer 3 1936-1947 UK AN
Beechcraft Model 17 Liaison 2 1940-1958 USA BC
Beriev MBR-2 Maritime Patrol 5 1941-1942 Soviet Union VV Captured
Blackburn Ripon Maritime patrol 27 1927-1944 UK RI
Brequet 14A.2 Reconnaissance 30 1919-1927 France BR
Bristol Blenheim Bomber 98 1937-1958 UK BL
Brewster B-239 Fighter 44 1940-1948 USA BW
Bristol Bulldog Fighter 19 1935-1944 UK BU
Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander Transport 1 1974-1975 UK BN
Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann Trainer 1 1939-1940 Germany
Caudron C.59 Multi-purpose 3 1923-1931 France CA
Caudron C.60 Basic trainer 64 1923-1936 France CA
Caudron C.714 Light fighter 6 1940 France CA
Caudron G.3 Reconnaissance 19 1920-1924 France
Caudron G.4 Air ambulance 1 1923 France
Cessna 402B Businessliner Transport 2 1975-1984 USA CB
Cessna C-37 Trainer 1 1939-1944 USA CE
Curtiss Hawk 75 Fighter 44 1941-1948 USA CU
Curtiss P-40M Fighter 1 1944-1945 USA KH
de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver Light transport 3 1958-1971 Canada BV
de Havilland DH.60 Moth Trainer 23 1929-1944 UK MO
de Havilland Dragon Rapide Trainer 2 1939-1940 UK
de Havilland Express Air ambulance 1 1940 UK Owned by the Red Cross
de Havilland Tiger Moth Liaison 1 1940-1944 UK MO Interned
de Havilland Vampire Fighter 6 1954-1965 UK VA
de Havilland Vampire Trainer Fighter trainer 9 1955-1965 UK VT
Desoutter II Liaison 1 1941-1944 UK DS
DFW C.V Reconnaissance 2 1918-1921 Germany
Dornier Do 17Z Bomber 15 1942-1948 Germany DN
Dornier Do 22 Anti-submarine 4 1941-1945 Germany DR
Douglas C-47 Transport 9 1960-1984 USA DO
Douglas DC-2 Transport 3 1940-1956 USA DC, later DO
Fairchild 24 Liaison 1 1939-1941 USA FD
Fiat G.50 Fighter 35 1940-1946 Italy FA
Fieseler Fi 156 Storch Liaison 2 1939-1960 Germany ST
Focke-Wulf Fw 44 Stieglitz Basic trainer 35 1940-1960 Germany SZ
Focke-Wulf Fw 58 Weihe Liaison 1 1943-1944 Germany FH
Fokker C.V Reconnaissance 19 1927-1945 Netherlands FO
Fokker C.X Reconnaissance bomber 39 1936-1958 Netherlands FK
Fokker D.VII Fighter 3 1919-1924 Germany
Fokker D.X Fighter 1 1923-1926 Netherlands
Fokker D.XXI Fighter 97 1937-1948 Netherlands FR
Fokker F.27 Transport 3 1980-2015 Netherlands FF
Fokker F.VII Transport 1 1941-1943 Netherlands FE
Fokker F.VIII Transport 1 1940-1941 Netherlands
Folland Gnat Light fighter 13 1958-1974 UK GN
Fouga CM.170 Magister Fighter trainer 80 1958-1988 France FM
Friedrichshafen FF 33 Reconnaissance 3 1918-1923 Germany
Friedrichshafen FF 41 Reconnaissance 1 1918-1923 Germany
Friedrichshafen FF 49 Reconnaissance 5 1918-1922 Germany
Georges Levy G.L. 40 Maritime patrol 12 1919-1922 France
Gloster Gamecock Fighter 17 1927-1944 UK GA
Gloster Gauntlet Fighter trainer 24 1940-1945 UK GT
Gloster Gladiator Fighter 30 1940-1945 UK GL
Gourdou-Leseurre GL-21/22 Fighter 20 1923-1931 France
Hanriot H.232 Trainer 3 1941-1945 France HT
Hawker Hurricane Fighter 13 1940-1944 UK HU, later HC One captured
Heinkel He 115 Maritime patrol 3 1940-1944 Germany HE
Høver M.F. 11 Maritime reconnaissance 3 1940-1944 Norway NK
Ilyushin DB-3 Bomber 11 1940-1946 Soviet Union VP, later DB 4 captured
Ilyushin Il-4 Bomber 4 1943-1945 Soviet Union DF
Ilyushin Il-28 Target tug 4 1960-1981 Soviet Union NH
IVL A.22 Hansa Maritime patrol 120 1922-1936 Finland/Germany IL
IVL C.24 Fighter 1 1924 Finland
IVL C.25 Fighter 1 1925 Finland
IVL Haukka Fighter 3 1927-1930 Finland HA
IVL K.1 Kurki Trainer 1 1927 Finland
Junkers A.35 Transport 1 1928 Germany S
Junkers A50 Junior Liaison 2 1936-1940 Germany SK
Junkers F 13 Multi-purpose 3 1939-1947 Germany JU
Junkers Ju 88 Bomber 24 1943-1948 Germany JK
Junkers K 43 Bomber 6 1931-1952 Germany JU
Junkers W 34 Trainer 6 1930-1944 Germany JU
Klemm Kl 25 Trainer 2 1939-1941 Germany
Koolhoven F.K. 31 Reconnaissance 12 1926-1932 Netherlands KO
Koolhoven F.K.52 Multi-purpose 2 1940-1943 Netherlands KO
Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3 Fighter 3 1942-1945 Soviet Union LG Captured
Letov Š-218 Basic trainer 39 1930-1945 Czechoslovakia SM
LVG C.VI Reconnaissance 2 1922-1923 Germany
Martinsyde F.4 Buzzard Fighter 15 1923-1939 UK MA
Messerschmitt Bf 109G Fighter 159 1943-1954 Germany MT
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15UTI Fighter trainer 4 1962-1977 Soviet Union MU
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21Bis Fighter 20 1978-1998 Soviet Union MB, later MG
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F Fighter 22 1963-1986 Soviet Union MG
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21U, US, UM Fighter trainer 6 1965-1998 Soviet Union MK
Morane-Saulnier MS.50 Trainer 6 1925-1932 France MS
Morane-Saulnier MS 406 Fighter 87 1940-1948 France MS
N.A.B. Albatros typ 9 / typ 17 Reconnaissance 3 1918-1923 Sweden/Germany
Nieuport 10 Reconnaissance 3 1918-1919 France/Russia Captured
Nieuport 11 Fighter 1 1918-1923 France/Russia Captured
Nieuport 23 Fighter 2 1918-1920 France Captured
Pervical Pembroke Aerial photography 2 1965-1968 UK PR
Petlyakov Pe-2 Reconnaissance 7 1941-1946 Soviet Union PE
Petlyakov Pe-3 Reconnaissance 1 1943-1944 Soviet Union PE Captured
Piper PA-28R Cherokee Arrow Liaison 10 1974-2004 USA PA
Piper PA-31 Navajo Transport 1 1974-1975 USA PN
Piper PA-31-350 Chieftain Transport 6 1983-2011 USA PC
Polikarpov I-15bis Reconnaissance 5 1940-1945 Soviet Union VH, later IH Captured
Polikarpov I-16 Fighter 2 1940-1943 Soviet Union VH, later IR Captured
Polikarpov I-16UTI Fighter trainer 1 1941-1943 Soviet Union VH, later UT
Polikarpov I-153 Reconnaissance 11 1940-1945 Soviet Union VH, later IT Captured
Polikarpov U-2 Liaison 4 1942-1950 Soviet Union VU Captured
Potez 25 A.2 Observation 1 1927-1936 France
Rumpler 6B Fighter 2 1918-1926 Germany
Rumpler C.VIII Trainer 1 1918-1924 Germany
Saab 17 Target tug 2 1959-1961 Sweden SH
Saab 35 Draken Fighter 36 1972-2000 Sweden DK
Saab 91 Safir Basic trainer 36 1958-1982 Sweden SF
Shavrov Sh-2 Liaison 2 1942-1944 Soviet Union VV Captured
SIAI S.9 Reconnaissance 2 1919-1920 Italy
SPAD S.34 Trainer 2 1921-1925 France
SPAD S.VII Fighter 1 1919-1923 France
Stetinin M-5 Reconnaissance 1 1918-1920 Russia Captured
Stetinin M-9 Reconnaissance 9 1918-1922 Russia Captured
Stetinin M-15 Reconnaissance 2 1918-1919 Russia Captured
Stetinin M-16 Reconnaissance 6 1918-1923 Russia Captured
Svenska Aero Jaktfalken Trainer 3 1940-1945 Sweden JF
Taylorcraft BC-12 Liaison 2 1939-1940 USA
Taylor J-2 Cub Trainer 2 1939-1940 USA
Thulin Typ D Multi-purpose 2 1918 Sweden
Thulin LA Trainer 1 1918-1919 Sweden
Tupolev SB-2 Anti-submarine 24 1940-1950 Soviet Union VP, later SB 8 captured
Valmet L-90 TP Redigo Liaison 10 1992-2013 Finland RG
Valmet Tuuli II Trainer 1 1951 Finland TL
Valmet Tuuli III Trainer 1 1957-1959 Finland TL
Valmet Vihuri Fighter trainer 51 1951-1959 Finland VH
VL Humu Fighter 1 1944-1945 Finland HM
VL Kotka Maritime patrol 6 1931-1944 Finland KA
VL Myrsky Fighter / Reconnaissance 51 1944-1947 Finland MY
VL Paarma Basic trainer 1 1931-1933 Finland PA
VL Pyry Fighter trainer 41 1939-1962 Finland PY
VL Pyörremyrsky Fighter 1 1945-1947 Finland PM
VL Sääski Multi-purpose 33 1928-1943 Finland
VL Tuisku Multi-purpose 31 1935-1950 Finland TU
VL Viima Trainer 24 1936-1962 Finland VI
Waco YKS-7 Liaison 1 1939-1940 USA
Westland Lysander Liaison 12 1940-1946 UK LY


Aircraft Role Number In service Country of origin Code letters
Agusta-Bell 206 Transport 1 1968-1979 USA HB
Mil Mi-4 Transport 3 1962-1979 Soviet Union HR
Mil Mi-8 Transport 9 1973-2010 Soviet Union HS
SM-1 Multi-purpose 4 1961-1967 Poland/Soviet Union HK
Sud-Aviation Alouette Multi-purpose 2 1965-1975 France HA