At minus-30° C, there’s little room for waiting around. Either you’re prepared or you suffer. Either your helicopter starts or you pack it in.
It is the former for the Finnish Army, where wintertime in the northern latitudes promises below-zero temperatures, permanent snow cover, and less than six hours of daylight on the shortest days. In this unforgiving terrain, the army operates NH90 TTH helicopters from its base at Utti, near Finland’s southern coast.
In 2015, the Finnish Defence Forces received their 20th and final NH90 as part of a fleet replacement programme, retrofitting them over the next four years to become one of the first NH90 user nations with its fleet 100% at final operational capability.
As the only armed forces branch with a helicopter regiment (the Border Guard also operates rotorcraft), the Finnish Army is called on for the whole spectrum of missions. Special Operations Forces (SOF) make up the bulk, but they support all three branches as, for example, the Army with troop and cargo transport, the Air Force with search and rescue and, in a year’s time, the Navy with tactical sea mine drops. On the civil side, the army supports law enforcement, as well as the national health system doing medevac and search and rescue. Not to mention fire fighting with the Bambi bucket.