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Finland could spend up to $10bn to replace its fleet of F/A-18 Hornet fighters

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World Defense & Security News - Finland
 
 
 
Finland could spend up to $10bn to replace its fleet of F/A-18 Hornet fighters
 
Finland is planning to replace its existing fleet of American-made front-line fighter jets with either U.S. or European-made warplanes in a purchase that could cost up to 10 billion euros ($11.23 billion), Finnish defense officials said Thursday, June 11. A preliminary report prepared for Finland's defense ministry recommends that the formal selection for Finland's new fighter jet should start next year and end in a purchasing decision in 2021.
     
Finland is planning to replace its existing fleet of American-made front-line fighter jets with either U.S. or European-made warplanes in a purchase that could cost up to 10 billion euros ($11.23 billion), Finnish defense officials said Thursday, June 11. A preliminary report prepared for Finland's defense ministry recommends that the formal selection for Finland's new fighter jet should start next year and end in a purchasing decision in 2021.
Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft
     
Official decisions that will launch the procurement in line with the report's recommendations will be made later this year, Finland's Minister of Defense Jussi Niinisto said at a press conference where the report was published.

Finland is seeking to replace its current 62-strong fleet of U.S.-made F/A-18 Hornet jets which will start reaching the end of their service lives in 2025. The last F/A-18s are set to be phased out by 2030.

Last year, Finland's defense ministry tasked a working group study to determine how Finland should arrange its air defense after the F/A-18s withdrawal from service. The working group decided to recommend buying new multi role fighters, said the group's leader Lauri Puranen, a former Finnish Air Force commander.

The group's report doesn't discuss how many aircraft Finland should buy or how much they could cost, Mr. Puranen said.

However, Mr. Puranen said the current size of Finland's fighter fleet "has suited Finland's needs well" while the estimated cost of new fighters can fall between EUR5 billion and EUR10 billion.

For Finland, a country of 5.5 million people, the fighter buy will represent a major investment in its defense. If the buy's price tag were to hit the upper range of estimates, it would amount to almost 20% relative to Finnish central government's current annual spending.

The defense ministry's report lists two American warplane types and three European warplane types as potential candidates for Finland. The American types are the F-35 by Lockheed Martin Corp. and a larger and newer version of the F/A-18, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet by the Boeing Company.

The European types are the Eurofighter Typhoon made by the Eurofighter consortium, the Rafale by France's Dassault Group and the next-generation version of JAS 39 Gripen by Sweden's Saab Group.

F-35 and Gripen are seen by analysts as the leading candidates since the three other types are relatively heavy and expensive weapons for a country of Finland's size.

(Source: Nasdaq.com)