Karelian Air Command
The Karelian Air Command (Finnish: Karjalan lennosto, abbr. KarLsto; Swedish: Karelens flygflottilj) is the peace-time Finnish Air Force unit, responsible for the protection of the airspace of eastern and southeastern Finland. In spite of its name, the headquarters of the air command is not located in the Finnish historical province of Karelia, but in historical Savonia and in the present-day province of Northern Savonia, at the Kuopio Airport in Siilinjärvi.
The wing consists about 20 F-18 Hornets, belonging to the No. 31 Sqn and six radar stations. The unit has about 600 personnel, of whom 450 are professional enlisted men or commissioned officers and the other 150 are yearly-changing conscripts. The Headquarters no 7 is also located at the air force base.
The unit was created in 1918 as the Lento-Osasto II. During World War II it was to encompose the Fighter Squadrons 24, 26 and 28. The unit was moved to Rissala after the wars, and the fighter wing was divided between Flying Regiments 2 and 3. Flying Regiment 2, was later equipped with Fouga Magisters and MiG-21s. The unit flew MiG-21s from 1960 until 1998, when it received its F-18 Hornets.
Fighter Squadron 31
The 31st Fighter Squadron is the operational unit of the Karelian Wing. During Peace-time, its main duty is to guard its assigned air space, and if needed, to prevent unpermitted use of it. In order to be able to do so, it is equipped with some twenty F-18 Hornet fighters and 5 liaison aircraft. The wing has also an F-18 weapons training platform, called WTSAT or "Weapons Tactics and Situational Awareness Trainer". The unit has also a number of special vehicles, such as rescue and refueling vehicles.
- Headquarters Flight
- 1st Flight
- Fighter flight, equipped with F-18C/Ds and also trains mechanics
- 2nd Flight
- Fighter flight, equipped with F-18C/Ds and trains pilots
- 4th Flight
- Liaison flight, equipped with Valmet Vinka, PA-31-350 Chieftain, Valmet L-90TP Redigo aircraft
Each flight has about 100 personnel, consisting of e.g.:
- Technical personnel
- Rescue personnel (also civilians)
- Equipment personnel (also civilians)
- Air traffic controllers (also civilians)
Conscripts are mainly used as help mechanics and as refuelers.