On December 10, the Finnish military officials announced their decision to purchase the U.S. F-35A Lightning 2 fighters in order to replace the F-18 Hornet fleet.
The purchase of the F-35A will be carried out within the framework of the HX program launched back in 2015. it aims to purchase 64 new fighters in order to replace 62 obsolete F-18 Hornets. The HX program has a budgeted of maximum of €10 billion (U.S. $11 billion). It includes 64 F-35 A Block 4 planes (€4.7 billion), as well as a stash of AMRAAM and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (€755 million) and a maintenance services package through 2030 (€2.9 billion).
Competitors to the Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Lightning 2 were Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab’s Gripen. All the presented aircraft were tested in Finland at the beginning of 2020. However, back in 2019, Lockheed Martin staged a separate demonstration of its F-35A Lightning 2 on Finnish territory.
Finally, the Finnish government ordered the purchase of 64 F-35A Block 4 as it passed the criteria of security of supply and industrial participation and affordability, according to the MOD statement. It also scored highest in the military capability area.
One of the Finnish selection criteria was the multinational and “large” user community, the MoD said. “The system is in service in many European nations including Norway and Denmark.”
It is expected that the first F-35A will be sold in 2025, but these aircraft will remain in the United States to train Finnish military personnel. The fighters will be delivered to Finland from 2026 to 2030. The deliveries of the whole range of weapons for the F-35A will have to be completed by 2035. The annual cost of maintaining the fleet of F-35A fighters in Finland is estimated at 254 million euros.
Finland became the ninth country in Europe to pick the Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation fighter jet. Earlier, in June, Switzerland abandoned the French Rafale Dassault aircraft in favor of the American F-35 from Lockheed Martin.
The success is a blow for France, as its Dassault Rafale lost another contract in Europe. Dassault painted Finland’s pick as a decision in favor of the United States, presumably over its neighbors on the continent. “Once again, we notice and regret an American preference prevailing in Europe,” reads the statement.
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