The Finland Defence Forces has received a mandate from the country’s defence ministry to start the HX fighter project for replacing the operational capability of F/A-18 aircraft, which will be phased out by 2025.
Developments in Finland’s operating environment and the tasks of the Defence Forces, the Air Force and air defence require that the capabilities provided by the Hornet fleet be replaced by the end of the 2020s. The working group which was set up to assess the replacement of the Air Force F/A-18 aircraft was proposed in June.
The capabilities of multi-role fighters play a vital role in securing a pre-emptive threshold which would stop a possible aggressor from using military force against Finland. Also, the capabilities of the Hornet fleet are an integral part of air defence and the joint fire capability of the Defence Forces to engage land- and sea-based targets.
In addition, these capabilities support intelligence, surveillance and C2 systems in the Defence Forces, the ministry of defense announced Tuesday.
The life-span of the Hornet fleet which will end by the end of the 2020s is limited by weakening of relative capabilities, fatigue of structures and the availability of the aircraft’s systems, spare parts and software. Further it is not cost effective to extend the life-span of the Hornet fleet.
As the project to replace the capabilities of the Hornet fleet will take about 15 years to complete, the decision was taken to act on the recommendation of the working group.
The decision on submitting requests for information and calls for tenders will be made during this parliamentary term while the actual procurement decision will have to be made in the early 2020s.