on June 4, 2020, thirty-two Finnish Air Force F-18C/D Hornet performed elephant walk at kuopio airbase.
The Finnish Air Force, or Ilmavoimat, announced that the exercise had involved a total of 32 Hornets.
Pictures the service released only show 16 of the fighter jets together at Kuopio Air Base, which shares its runway with Kuopio Airport, in the central part of the country.
Kuopio is home to Fighter Squadron 31, one of two Finnish squadrons that fly Hornets, so it is possible that Fighter Squadron 11, based at Rovaniemi Air Base further to the north, also launched additional 16 aircraft as part of the exercise.
“A total of 32 F/A-18 Hornet multi-purpose fighters demonstrated the Air Force’s readiness to defend the whole of Finland in honor of the Defense Forces’ flag day,” the Finnish Air Force explained in social media posts on Twitter and Facebook. “The Hornets, which flew in eight flocks of four planes, crossed several locations from Helsinki to Ivalo.”
The Ilmavoimat has 54 single-seat F-18Cs and another seven twin-seat F-18Ds, in total, which it first began acquiring in the mid-1990s. Finland bought the aircraft primarily for air defense missions, so Boeing did not refer to them by the “fighter-attack” or “F/A” nomenclature that it has applied to other Hornets, including those the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operate. The Finnish Air Force has since upgraded its jets to have a full ground-attack capability.
An elephant walk is a term for the taxing of military aircraft right before takeoff when they are in close formation. Often, it takes place right before a Minimum Interval Takeoff. The term elephant walks dates to World War II when large fleets of allied bombers would conduct attacks in missions containing 1,000 aircraft.