WASHINGTON: Lockheed Martin’s F-35 joint strike fighter has won Finland’s HX fighter competition, worth €10 billion, or about US $11 billion.
Finland is now expected to buy 64 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants–outfitted with the drag chute system also used by Norway for landing in icy climates—to replace its legacy F/A-18 Hornets. Also included in the deal is a suite of weapons and a sustainment package.
“It was a tough race,” Finnish defense minister Antti Kaikkonen said during a press conference announcing the decision today.
The company beat a crowded field of competitors, including the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and Saab Gripen E. And it appears the F-35 defeated all comers handily.
Maj. Gen. Pasi Jokinen, commander of the Finnish air force, said the F-35 came first or shared the top score in all mission areas. Overall, the jet scored 4.47 on the capability assessment, exceeding the 4.0 requirement. The next highest scorer achieved only a 3.81.
Finland’s HX competition was of particular interest to defense watchers because of its unusual acquisition strategy, which allowed companies to offer a package of fighters and complimentary systems to meet Finland’s operational requirements and the wider threat environment. (For instance, Saab offered a pair of GlobalEye airborne early warning aircraft as part of its package, while Boeing included an option for EA-18G Growler electronic attack planes.) The competition was capped off by a two-week simulated wargame.
“It was important to select the system with the best possible capabilities, including supporting elements and development capacity over the entire life cycle,” Kaikkonen said.