Finland has signed letter of offer and acceptance (LoA) documents to advance its acquisition of 64 Lockheed Martin F-35As, and agreed to terms for its domestic industry’s involvement in the project.

Helsinki selected the F-35A last December, following an HX fighter competition to replace its Boeing F/A-18C/Ds by the end of this decade. Deliveries of its Block 4-standard stealth fighters will be made between 2025 and 2030.

F-35A with Finnish air force Hornet

Source: Finnish defence ministry

New fleet of 64 stealth fighters will replace Helsinki’s current F/A-18s

The procurement was finalised via an LoA signed by Chief of the Defence Forces Logistics Command Major General Kari Renko in Tampere on 11 February. Separately, defence minister Antti Kaikkonen signed an agreement in Helsinki covering industrial participation arrangements with Lockheed and F135 engine producer Pratt & Whitney. These cover offsets worth at least 30% of the programme’s total €8.4 billion ($9.5 billion) cost.

“The objective of industrial participation is to develop and maintain the production, technology and expertise in the defence and security industry that is critical with respect to national defence, state security and functions vital to society, as well as to improve and safeguard the national security of supply,” the defence ministry says.

Specifically, the nation’s industrial participation will include “large-scale production of the F-35 front fuselage in Finland, also for other users, production of structural components, as well as equipment testing and maintenance capability”, the ministry says. Additionally, its F135 engines will undergo final assembly in the country.

“This partnership with the Finnish Defence Forces and Finnish defence industry will deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft for decades, while also providing Finnish industry high technology engineering and manufacturing economic benefits,” says Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed’s F-35 programme vice-president and general manager.

“The production work will continue for more than 20 years, and the F-35 sustainment work will continue into the 2060s,” she adds.

Also included in the LoA is maintenance equipment, spare parts, training systems and instruction for pilots and technical personnel.

Helsinki says a separate agreement to be signed later this year will cover the procurement of Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles.

“In accordance with the procurement proposal submitted to the [Finnish] government in December 2021, the agreements on procuring air-to-ground and air-to-surface weapons will be made later,” the defence ministry says.

“This will ensure that the weapon composition can be optimised, for example in terms of the number and types of weapons, so that Finland will have a high-performance F-35 system when entering the 2030s,” it adds.