Finland has commissioned a group to investigate what type of air defense system Finland requires in the future, according to local media reports.
Replacing age old Hornet fighter fleet will cost an approximate $7.6 billion and the working group is tasked to see whether it’s possible to upgrade the existing fleet, which has been in service since 1995.
"Technical developments need to be taken into account as do the changing needs of our defence environment, which is what we're investigating," says Lauri Puranen, who is responsible for Ministry of Defense acquisitions. "A 30-year old Formula 1 car can't survive in this world, and we need to find out if a 30-year old fighter jet can," says Puranen.
The preliminary working group will not take a stand on the type or number of planes that should be purchased. To provide some context, neighbor Norway recently chose a new generation of F-35. In Finland, the new version of the familiar fighter jet family seems to be favoured in spite of their very high price tag. The new fighter jets would be the most expensive defense acquisition in the next decade and take place in about 2030.
According to the Defense Forces, the brand of the current fleet does not affect future decision-making.
"When it's time to leave the Hornets, we are not tied to them or anyone else for that matter," says General Jarmo Lindberg, Commander of the Finnish Defense Forces.
After the preliminary report, decision-makers will also have to decide whether Finnish air defense will be carried out solo, by joining forces with neighbor Sweden, or entering into the NATO alliance.
According to Lindberg, Finnish airspace will only be protected by Finns using their own fleet.