Finland has received information from five aircraft primes regarding the replacement of its air force’s Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet.
The HX fighter replacement programme was kicked off in November 2015 by defence minister Jussi Niinistö. This was followed some weeks later by the issue of a request for information (RFI) from the government to five manufacturers.
The Finnish defence ministry notified the governments of France, Sweden, the UK and the USA that it would be seeking information on each nation’s fighter offerings, and at the time said it was seeking information on seven aircraft types from five manufacturers.
All five manufacturers have responded, namely Boeing, Dassault, Eurofighter, Lockheed Martin and Saab, with their respective F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, Typhoon, F-35 and Gripen E aircraft. Information on the Lockheed F-16 and Boeing F-15 has not been offered.
The government is expected to issue its counter-response in April 2017, once the RFI responses have been analysed. A subsequent request for proposals is expected to be issued in 2018, and the government has indicated that a selection will be made in 2021.
“Through a RFI it is possible to bring together visions as to what kind of solutions the recipients of the RFIs offer to replace the capabilities of the air force F/A-18 aircraft in the post-2030 security environment,” the defence ministry says.
The incumbent Finnish F/A-18
Notably, the defence ministry adds that a mix of vehicles could have been offered – including unmanned air vehicles – which could complement the multirole fighter. Weapons, training, command and control systems, and maintenance offerings will also be assessed by the government.
Helsinki operates 61 F/A-18C/Ds, including seven two-seat trainers, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows. The defence ministry says these will be phased out by 2025.