Finland to purchase Israeli air defense systems due to Russian threat

Finland's decision to increase its air defense capabilities comes as a direct response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The David's Sling air defense system intercepts target during flight test (photo credit: THE MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY (MDA))
The David's Sling air defense system intercepts target during flight test
(photo credit: THE MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY (MDA))

Finland is looking to purchase air defense systems from Israel, the Nordic nation's defense minister Antti Kaikkonen said on Finnish television show Ykkösaamu on Saturday, according to YLE News. 

Finland previously sent an invitation for bids to five companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

Now, Finland has narrowed it down to the two Israeli candidates, Kaikkonen revealed. "It's a substantial investment...a big one right after fighter jets," he said.

Under the anti-aircraft project, Finland plans to purchase equipment such as transporter erector launchers, radar systems, missiles and related integration equipment, the defense ministry said, adding the goal is to make a final purchase decision in early 2023.

The decision to increase its air defense capabilities reportedly comes as a direct response to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

 Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin (credit: VIA REUTERS) Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin (credit: VIA REUTERS)

Last week, Russia threatened Finland of "serious military and political" repercussions after prime minister Sanna Marin said Finland is considering applying for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) membership.

Finland, which has historically been against joining NATO, has seen more and more Finnish voices calling to join the defense alliance.

A poll commissioned by YLE found that a majority (53%) of Finns now believe it is in Finland's best interest to join NATO. In contrast, only two years ago just one out of five Finns were in favor of joining NATO.

Despite that, president Sauli Niinisto ruled out the possibility of Finland reacting to the invasion by immediately applying for NATO membership.

In Finland, "we are now seeing quick comments for applying today and joining tomorrow," he said. "These sensitive reactions are understandable but cannot really work in the real world."

Reuters contributed to this report.