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Finland: HX fighter programme entered its evaluation phase


Finland’s HX fighter programme to replace the Finnish Air Force’s F/A-18 C/D Hornet has entered its evaluation phase with the country set to evaluate entrants from Eurofighter, Boeing, Dassault, Lockheed Martin and Saab ahead of awarding a contract in late 2021.


Finland HX fighter programme entered its evaluation phase Options for Finnish Air Force's new fighter are : Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet,  Dassault Rafale ,  Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-35 and Saab Gripen . (Picture source: Finnish Air Force)


GlobalData’s defence technology writer Harry Lye says: “Finland kicked off its quest for a new fighter jet in 2015 when then Prime Minister Sipilä’s office launched the programme to find a replacement for the ageing fleet of F/A-18 C/D Hornets.

“Following a Request for Information (RFI) sent to the UK, France, Sweden and the US, Finland now faces a choice between the Boeing Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Lockheed Martin F-35A, Saab Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon –the first of the options to undergo evaluations.”

Boeing Super Hornet

Boeing told GlobalData that as a follow-up to the Hornet, the infrastructure to support the Finnish Air Force in flying the Super Hornet essentially already exists, saying: “You could have a Hornet flying today and a Super Hornet flying tomorrow.”

The Super Hornet is a mainstay of the US Navy’s aerial power, with Boeing saying the Block III Super Hornet can engage threats across air, land and sea.

Saab Gripen

Describing why the aircraft is a good fit for the Finnish Armed Forces, Saab Gripen campaign director for Finland Magnus Skogberg told GlobalData: “Gripen E/F features the latest available technology for the continuously changing and very challenging operational environment. In addition to a substantial weapon and sensor package as well as the necessary equipment and associated services needed for operating the system, our offer to Finland includes also the world’s most advanced AEW&C system GlobalEye, which brings Finnish situational awareness to a whole new, strategic level.”

Eurofighter Typhoon

On 10 January, the Typhoon became the first of the five possible fighters to take part in the competition’s HX challenge phase, with the aircraft’s performance being tested under the operation of UK Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots. A key test for the Typhoon will be cold-weather testing to make sure it can handle Finnish environments and still perform to expectations.

BAE Systems Finland Managing Director Paul Hitchcock told GlobalData: “We believe that by choosing Eurofighter, the Finnish Air Force would not only be acquiring the most advanced multi-role aircraft on the market, and one proven in service across the globe, it would be choosing everything Finland needs to independently operate, maintain and control its own aircraft in peacetime and times of crisis.”

Dassault  and Lockheed Martin had been approached for comment but had yet to reply at the time of publishing.