The race to pick a replacement for the Finnish Air Force’s (Ilmavoimat’s) current fleet of upgraded F/A-18C/D ‘legacy’ Hornets has two strong American competitors; Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II and a package for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler under the HX fighter competition.
Ride along with the F/A-18 #SuperHornet and #EA18G Growler as they fly to Finland for the #HXChallenge – the test and evaluation event being hosted by the @FinnishAirForce as they select their next fighter aircraft. #HXhanke pic.twitter.com/v3bR6JqSrX
— Boeing Defense (@BoeingDefense) February 18, 2020
The U.S. State Departmentmeanwhile has approved the sale of the F/A-18EF Super Hornet and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Finland, paving the way for the nation to purchase US jets should either Boeing or Lockheed Martin win its ongoing fighter competition.
After the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency posted the notification of the potential sale, Finland’s Ministry of Defence released a statement clarifying that the announcement represents an important procedural step forward for the HX Fighter Program, but that negotiations with all competitors are ongoing.
“The announcement of the notification procedure does not constitute a procurement decision by Finland, as the decision to procure multi-role fighters will be made by the Government in 2021,” the statement said. “Furthermore, the types and quantities of multi-role fighters and weapons specified in the notification do not represent the final content of the Finnish procurement package; instead, the list published by the DSCA indicates those items and quantities that the US administration is prepared to sell at this stage of the procurement process.”
Along with two American offers, Helsinki will make a final decision after considering offers from European plane-makers: France’s Dassault, with the Rafale; the multinational Eurofighter consortium, offering the Typhoon, in a bid led by the United Kingdom; and Sweden, with the Saab JAS 39E/F Gripen, said a report in The Drive.
The F-35s will cost $12.5 billion for 64 conventional take-off and landing F-35A variants. The report said that the offer included the following air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground precision-guided munitions, subsystems, and components:
Sixty-six (66) Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines (64 installed and 2 spares); five hundred (500) GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) All-Up Round (AUR); twelve (12) GBU-53/B SDB II Guided Test Vehicles (GTV); twelve (12) GBU-53/B SDB II Captive Carry Vehicles (CCV); one hundred fifty (150) Sidewinder AIM-9X Block II+ (Plus) Tactical Missiles; thirty-two (32) Sidewinder AIM-9X Block II+ (Plus) Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs); thirty (30) AIM-9X Block II+ (Plus) Sidewinder Tactical Guidance Units; eight (8) AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder CATM Guidance Units; one hundred (100) AGM-154C-1 Joint Stand Off Weapon (JSOW-C1) Tactical Missiles; two hundred (200) Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) AGM-158B-2 Missiles; two (2) AGM-158B-2 JASSM-ER Separation Test Vehicles; two (2) AGM-158B-2 JASSM-ER Instrumented Test Vehicles; two (2) AGM-158B-2 JASSM-ER Jettison Test Vehicles; two (2) AGM-158B-2 Inert JASSM w/Intelligent Telemetry Instrumentation Kits; two (2) AGM-158 Dummy Air Training Missiles; one hundred twenty (120) KMU-556 JDAM Guidance Kits for GBU-31; three hundred (300) FMU-139D/B Fuzes; two (2) KMU-556(D-2)/B Trainer JDAM Guidance Kits for GBU-31; thirty (30) KMU-557 JDAM Guidance Kits for GBU-31; one hundred fifty (150) KMU-572 JDAM Guidance Kits for GBU-38/54; one hundred twenty (120) BLU-117, General Purpose Bombs; thirty-two (32) BLU-109, General Purpose Bomb; one hundred fifty (150) BLU-111, General Purpose Bomb; six (6) MK-82, Inert Bomb; one (1) FMU-139D/B (D-1) Inert Fuze.
The report confirmed that no AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles are included as Finnish Air Force is already equipped with the weapons.
Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communications, Computer and Intelligence/Communications, Navigational, and Identification (C4I/CNI); Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN); Air System Training Devices; Weapons Employment Capability and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; reprogramming center access; F-35 Performance Based Logistics; software development/integration; aircraft ferry and tanker support; Detector Laser DSU-38A/B, Detector Laser DSU-38A(D-2)/B, KMU-572(D-2)/B Trainer (JDAM), 40 inch Wing Release Lanyard; GBU-53/B SDB II Weapon Load Crew Trainers (WLCT); GBU-53/B SDB II Practical Explosive Ordnance Disposal System Trainers (PEST); AGM-154C-1 JSOW Captive Flight Vehicles; AGM-154C-1 JSOW Dummy Air Training Missiles; AGM-154C-1 JSOW mission planning, integration support and testing, munitions storage security and training, weapon operational flight program software development; integration of the Joint Strike Missile; weapons containers; aircraft and munitions support and test equipment; communications equipment; provisioning, spares and repair parts; weapons repair and return support; personnel training and training equipment; weapon systems software, publications and technical documents; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
On the other hand, the Boeing’s F/A-18E/F and EA-18G programs head Dan Gillian displayed confidence in his proposal in an interview with The Drive. “We think that’s a great combination for Finland given the threat environment they operate in,” he said, referring to the Nordic country’s increasingly tense relationship with Russia.
Boeing’s offer includes:
One hundred sixty-six (166) F414-GE-400 engines (144 installed and 22 spares); five hundred (500) GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) All-Up Round (AUR); twelve (12) GBU-53/B SDB II Guided Test Vehicles (GTV); twelve (12) GBU-53/B SDB II Captive Carry Reliability Trainers; one hundred fifty (150) AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder Tactical Missiles; thirty-two (32) AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs); thirty (30) AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder Tactical Guidance Units; eight (8) AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder CATM Guidance Units; one hundred sixty (160) AGM-154C-1 Joint Stand Off Weapons (JSOW); two hundred (200) AGM-158B-2B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range All Up Rounds (JASSM ER AUR); two (2) AGM-158B-2 JASSM Separation Test Vehicles (STV); two (2) AGM-158B-2 JASSM Instrumented Test Vehicles (ITV); two (2) AGM-158B-2 JASSM Jettison Test Vehicles (JTV); two (2) AGM-158B-2 Inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) with Telemetry Instrumental Kits; two (2) AGM-158B-2 JASSM Maintenance Training Missiles (DATM); one hundred twenty (120) BLU-117B/B 2000LB GP Bombs; one hundred twenty (120) KMU-556F/B Bomb Tail Kits (JDAM); three hundred (300) FMU-139D/B Fuzes; two (2) KMU-556(D-2)/B Trainers (JDAM); thirty (30) BLU-109C/B 2000LB Bombs; thirty (30) KMU-557F/B Bomb Tail Kits (JDAM); two (2) BLU-109(D-1)/B 2000LB Bombs; one hundred two (102) BLU-111B/B 500LB General Purpose Bombs; one hundred two (102) KMU-572F/B JDAM Bomb Tail Kits; six (6) MK-82-0,1 500LB, General Purpose Bombs, Inert; fifty-one (51) BLU-110B/B 1000LB General Purpose Bombs; fifty (50) KMU-559F/B Bomb Tail Kits; fifty-eight (58) M61A2 20MM Gun Systems; thirty-two (32) Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR); thirty-two (32) Sniper Targeting Pods; fourteen (14) Advanced Electronic Attack Kit for EA-18G; sixty-five (65) AN/ALR-67(V)3 Electric Warfare Countermeasures Receiving Sets; sixty-five (65) AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Countermeasures Systems; seventy-four (74) Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems – Joint Tactical Radio Systems (MIDS JTRS); eighty-nine (89) Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS); three hundred seventy-seven (377) LAU-127E/A Guided Missile Launchers; seventy-four (74) AN/AYK-29 Distributed Targeting Processor – Networked (DTP-N); twenty-five (25) Infrared Search and Track (IRST) Systems; and eight (8) Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) sets.
The winner of the HX competition will produce up to 64 fighters to replace Finland’s Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets, which are expected to be retired by 2030. Instead of issuing a requirement for a particular number of aircraft with set capabilities, Finland is allowing the vendors to create packages of aircraft and weapons that best meet the Air Force’s operational needs — and the country’s budget.