Finland said it had received final bids from competitors for the HX programa to purchase new fighters that will replace the F-18s in service for about 30 years.
The deal is estimated at $12 billion, but the total number of aircraft will depend on each offer. The Saab Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35A jets are competing for the order.
Finland, although a member of the European Union, is not part of NATO, like neighboring Sweden. The Air Force has been analyzing options to renew its fighter fleet since 2014 and had placed April 30 as a deadline for submitting final proposals.
Saab and Lockheed Martin made public that they had submitted their proposals. The U.S. aerospace giant said its proposal goes beyond the acquisition and “will also build partnerships with Finnish companies and academic institutions that offer opportunities focused on developing and advancing security collaborations.”
The F-35A is the only aircraft with stealth technology in the competition and considered 5th gen fighter, however, its constant problems of reliability and availability can weigh against it.
Saab in turn revealed that its proposal includes 64 Gripen E/F fighters in addition to two GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft. The Swedish company also offers the final assembly of several components in Finland in addition to an advanced technical package that includes Meteor missiles.
Boeing, which confirmed the submission of the proposal via Twitter, reportedly offered the Finns an optional package that includes 50 F/A-18E/F fighters and 18 EA-18G Growler electronic warfare variant, currently used by the US Navy and Australia. The company reinforced the Super Hornet’s commonality with the first generation F-18 as a cost advantage.
Eurofighter Typhoon has focused on the industrial participation of Finnish companies in the production and maintenance of the fighter used by air forces in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. The consortium, however, did not reveal how many planes are in the package.
Dassault has not released information about its package, but it is taken for granted that it involves the Rafale C and the possibility of assembly in Finland.
According to the government of Finland, the winner of the HX program will be announced by December.