Finnish Air Force prepares for the purchase of the century

The article is published in Defence24. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


WARSAW, (BM) – The Finnish Armed Forces have issued formal invitations to tender for a new generation fighter’s final bid. This tender is part of a more comprehensive policy related to the HX program – the successor to the F / A-18C / D Hornet aircraft currently operated in this country. It is to be selected by the end of this year.

There are still five aircraft constructions in the HX competition: three European (Typhoon, Rafale, and Gripen E / F) and two American (F / A-18E / F Super Hornet + EF-18G Growler and F-35A Lightning II). The Finns strive to replace the current fleet of 62 Hornets with a new system to meet the country’s defense’s detailed requirements. Usually, 64 combat machines refer to this context, but other numbers are also allowed, although of a similar magnitude and different solutions. And so Boeing offers 58 Super Hornets plus 14 Growler electronic warfare planes; Saab 64 Gripeny along with GlobalEye early warning aircraft, and Lockheed Martin, Dassault, and Eurofighter, each with 64 aircraft of the latest versions (Typhoon Tranche 4, Rafale F3-R, F-35A).

Interestingly, the maximum prices offered by Americans are already known. The top package related to 72 F-18 family planes would cost up to USD 14.7 billion, and with the F-35 – USD 12.5 billion. However, these are the full packages, and the Finns can say that, for example, they need fewer machines to defend the country.

Helsinki is willing to pay between the US $ 7.7 billion and the US $ 11.1 billion for the total, including operation support, training and logistics packages, changes to management and information exchange systems, and building the necessary infrastructure. Price offers from European producers are not known yet. However, supposed that – as before in Poland’s case, the Eurofighter consortium is trying to tempt Helsinki with the prospect of “European cooperation” and economic and technological benefits, as well as independence in the field of maintenance and service work at Typhoons.

The Hornets, currently used in Finland, were put into service in 1995-2000 and used by the end of this decade. By then, their successors should have entered the line to remain in service until 2060. Some military experts assumed that Finland would make the selection before the end of this year. The final deadline for accepting all offers is April 30th.

The Finnish tender is based on detailed studies of individual competing constructions regarding their ability to perform specific tasks for Finland. Finland tested them early last year. It seems that there is not much room for political pressure there, and the Finnish defense doctrine attaches great importance to the possibility of supporting its troops by combat aircraft. It is also worth remembering that Finland still assumes dispersed operations of its aviation, based on road airport sections, making it difficult for a potential enemy to “ground” aviation in a defensive function.

Therefore, the HX program selection seems to be an authoritative answer to which of the Western aircraft structures is the most profitable for medium-sized but modern air forces preparing for operations in a high-intensity conflict.

So far, two of the four Nordic countries – Denmark and Norway – have opted for the F-35A. Both were former F-16 users. Third – Sweden – rebuilds its domestic Gripen fleet to version E.


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