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Border Guard increases aerial surveillance along Russian border

The Border Guard's helicopters and surveillance aircraft aim to fly around 4,000 hours in 2022, a quarter more than last year.

According to border officials, surveillance flights are an effective way to monitor the border zone. Image: Esa Syväkuru / Yle
Yle News

The Finnish Border Guard has increased air surveillance of the eastern border this year.

This means helicopters and surveillance aircraft of the Border Guard’s Air Patrol Squadron aim to fly around 4,000 hours in 2022, a quarter more than in 2021.

According to border officials, surveillance flights are an effective way to monitor the border zone. Sensors on the planes, such as thermal cameras, allow the aircraft to detect people from a distance.

"A flight along the border takes four hours, and we can film hundreds of kilometres. We also see a lot of targets that can't be inspected by dog patrols," Kasper Maunula, a AW119 Koala helicopter commander, told Yle.

Artificial intelligence to interpret surveillance footage

Earlier this year, border officials announced plans to replace Dornier DO-228 aircraft purchased in the 1990s that will soon reach the end of their service life. Following the procurement decision next year or in 2024 at the latest, new surveillance aircraft will enter service between 2026 and 2027.

The new aircraft will also be equipped with the latest surveillance technology. This means images captured in-flight can be transmitted to the ground or, in maritime areas, to a ship, and analysed using pattern recognition and artificial intelligence.

This will make illegal activity and trespassers easier to detect, since high-altitude aircraft generate so much data that it is impossible to analyse with the human eye alone.

Land border surveillance improved

In the autumn, the government will decide whether to build a fence along Finland's eastern border. As a result, new surveillance technology will also be introduced at the land border.

"We will get a comprehensive picture of the border area at different times, what is happening there, what it looks like," according to Pasi Marttinen, Deputy Commander of the Finnish Border Guard’s Air Patrol Squadron.

According to border officials, there are also plans to deploy mobile surveillance cells, surveillance robots, and new sensors on the ground.

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