Finland’s ‘Biggest-Ever Defense Deal Concludes’; F-35 Fighter Jets To Replace F/A-18 Hornets For Its Air Force

Finland has concluded the largest defense contract in its history with Lockheed Martin for the delivery of 64 F-35 fighters, the Finnish Cabinet announced on Friday.

In October 2020, the US Congress was notified about a possible deal with Finland on F-35s and related weapons and equipment. Apart from the F-35s, the Finnish Defense Ministry also considered four other options, including the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Saab Gripen.

“The Government of Finland has 10 December 2021 authorized the Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command to sign a procurement contract with the Government of the United States on Finland’s next multi-role fighter. The fighter replacing the Hornet fleet’s capability is the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II,” the cabinet said in a statement.

The deal entails the procurement of 64 F-35 fighters, various tailored weaponry, training and servicing solutions, and other related systems and maintenance services until the end of 2030. Finland will allocate over $10 billion toward the contract. The fighters are expected to be delivered in 2025-2030.

File:F-35..jpg - Wikimedia Commons
F-35 – Wikimedia Commons

The F-35 was one of five aircraft pitched to Finland, besides the Saab Gripen, Boeing’s Super-Hornet, Eurofighter, and French Rafale. According to reports, citing a number of unnamed defense sources, the fleet of F-35s was purchased due to their superior capability and lifespan.

The package offered for Finland was approved by the US State Department in October 2020. It includes up to 64 F-35As, plus a diverse armament package, spare parts and logistics, training, support systems.

“The F-35 will provide Finnish industries unique digital capabilities that leverage 5th generation engineering and manufacturing,” said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 programme. “The production work will continue for more than 20 years, and the F-35 sustainment work will continue into the 2070s,” Lauderdale said in a statement.

Boeing said it was disappointed with Finland’s judgment, adding that the firm still sees significant international interest in its F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler.

Sweden, home to Gripen fighter jet maker SAAB said it regretted the decision while also respecting the outcome. “Our excellent defense cooperation will of course continue. Finland will continue to be our closest security and defense policy partner,” Sweden’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement.