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Finland seeks final offers for HX fighter program

Finnish Air Force Hornet
The Finnish Air Force's F/A-18 Hornet aircraft are scheduled to retire by 2030. Photo: Finnish Air Force

The Finnish defense ministry has released a call for best and final offers for the HX fighter program, anticipating to make a final decision on the preferred Hornet successor before the end of the year.

The finalists in the competition to replace the Finnish Air Force’s Hornet aircraft include Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, the French Dassault Rafale, UK’s Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Swedish Gripen fighter built by Saab.

The deadline for the finalized tenders will be April 30.

This is the final stage in the country’s next-generation fighter program which started in 2018 with a preliminary call for tenders.

The request for final offers comes after Finland evaluated all five aircraft options as part of the so-called HX Challenge. In 2020, Finland put all contenders through three phases of testing. These included a capability assessment followed by simulations of various scenarios based on data gathered during two weeks of flying that each of the offered aircraft had to complete.

The Finnish government has approved 9.4 billion euros for the purchase of multi-role fighters to replace the Hornet fleet. The approved budget is not only for the aircraft, but also for associated technical and training systems, along with weapons, sensors and other required type-specific support functions. The package must also include the changes in command, control, communications and computers (C4) and information systems required for its integration into the Finnish defense forces’ systems.

After deciding on the winning proposal at the end of 2021, Finland will expect to receive first aircraft by 2025. The Finnish Air Force’s Hornet aircraft are scheduled to retire by 2030.