A Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornet. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

‘Finland: request for F-18 replacement soon’

Finland is about the issue a request for propopsal (RfP) to five aircraft manufacturers for a replacement for its ageing F-18 Hornets, sources in the Nordic country state on Wednesday 2 December. The five companies are Dassault, Saab, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The request is to be formally issued early in 2016, a mere ten years or so before the first F-18s run out of usable service life. Earlier this year, it was reported that odds are in favour of Dassault’s Rafale and Saab’s JAS39E/F Gripen. The first flight of the latter is on the cards for 2016.

Lockheed Martin will likely be asked about the F-35 Lightning II, while Boeing is to pitch the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which is in deperate need of sales to keep production going. BAE Systems is to inform Helsinki about the Eurofighter Typhoon.

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Two of roughly 60 Finnish Hornets to be replaced. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Decision

The replacement of roughly 60 Hornets is said to cost anywhere between 7 and 11 billion USD, Finnish sources say. A decision likely is still a few years away.

Finland accepted its very first F-18 Hornet in 1995 and the last one only five years later. Most aircraft were assembled by Patria Finavitec Oy. Among other tasks, the Finnish Air Forces uses the fighter jets to fend off Russian aircraft snooping around over the Baltic Sea.

Finland until this week was the only non-NATO country with a fully NATO qualified fighter unit, flying the F-18 Hornet at Rissala base in Kuopio. A Swedish Gripen unit also passed NATO exams late in November.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest