Contrary to reports from Helsinki in April, the US Departement of Defense will not offer the Boeing F-15 Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon to Finland as possible replacements for the country’s fleet of ‘legacy’ F-18 Hornets. Washington told Helsinki it will not respond to Finland’s Request for Information (RfI) for those jets, Finnish MoD confirmed on Monday 2 May. Washington however will send information on the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
Both the F-15 and F-16 were named on a list of candidates released by Helsinki in April. Both were designed in the 70s and are nearing the end of production in the US. Their inclusion in Finland’s list – and the inclusion of the F-15 in particular – came as a surprise to many, although officials earlier said that Finland was open to all offers that met the conditions of the HX-fighter project. That is the name assigned to the F-18 Hornet replacement program.
The candidates now left in that program, are the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-35 and Saab’s next generation JAS-39 Gripen. The latter will see its rollout of the factory in Sweden on 18 May.
All manufacturers will have to send Helsinki all required information by the end of this year. Comparison of the performances of all jets is scheduled for 2018 and a final decision is expected not before 2021.
The Finnish ministry of Defense formally started the process for replacing its F-18 Hornets this week by sending out a Request for Information (RfI) to various aircaft manufacturers. Helsinki asks those manufacturers to respond by the end of this year, but expects a final decision no sooner than 2021.
The nordic country wants more info on the Boeing F-15 Eagle and F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 and F-35, plus Saab the nex generation Gripen. The odd one in that list the F-15, a type that wasn’t widely named in the Finnish quest for a F-18 Hornet replacement before.
The RfI should have been handed out several months ago, but ‘logistic’ problems caused delays. Helsinki states the acquisition is ‘very large and complex’ ad therefore will take time. Comparison of the performances of all jets is scheduled for 2018.
The current F-18 Hornets should start leaving Finnish Air Force service in 2025, with the last one gone by 2030.
The US Navy’s newest playground for its Hornets, Super Hornets and – in the future – Lightning II multi-role fighters is nearing its entry into service. The US Navy press office has confirmed that the USS Gerald R. Ford – an aircraft carrier of a new kind – will be delivered in September.
First CVN 78 will undergo ship sea trials between July and August.
F/A-18E Super Hornet on AAG
The almost 13 billion dollar vessel has been plagued with delays. One of them being the new catapult system, which no longer uses steam but electromagnetics to launch aircraft into the air.
Also, the new turbo-electric landing system has been cause for concern, but manufacturer General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems just reported the first aircraft arrest with the Advanced Arresting Gear on 31 March, done with a US Navy Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18E Super Hornet on the tarmac of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey.
Legendary USS Nimitz
With an official 97 percent of the US Navy’s next-generation supercarrier complete, Newport News Shipbuilding is confident with that the Ford can replace the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) later this year.
At the same time the builder says it is cutting down costs for the second ship in the class, the USS John F. Kennedy, that will trade places with the legendary USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in 2021.
In a repeat of last year’s deployment, twelve US F-15C Eagles arrived in Europe over the weekend for six months of training and military deterrence. The F-15s are part of the 131st Fighter Squadron at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, and the 194th Fighter Squadron at Fresno Air National Guard Base, California.
Of the twelve air superiority aircraft, four will head to Iceland for NATO’s air policing mission at Keflavik airbase, while the other eight fly to Leeuwarden airbase in the Netherlands for large scale exercise Frisian Flag.
Theater Security Package
According to the US Air National Guard, the arrival of these F-15s marks the latest US Theater Security Package (TSP) to come to the European theater in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. More to the point, they act as a show of force to Russia and Vladimir Putin in particular.
The current deployment also involves 350 airmen. During their six month European stay, they will also forward deploy to other NATO nations, including Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania. In May, F-15s should also participate in an exercise in Finland.
The final Antarctic flight of the season for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Boeing 757 is being planned for the beginning of April, concluding this year’s mission in an operation that has been ongoing for more than 50 years.
A week ago the 2nd last flight of the 757 brought back the last of 22 personnel of the Royal New Zealand Defence Force from McMurdo Station and Scott Base on Antarctica to the Harewood Terminal on Christchurch International Airport on New Zealand’s South Island. Between October and February up to 220 men and women from all branches of the military served on the cold, icy continent that many nations claim parts of.
The RNZAF not only supports its own scientists and troops, but also those of the United States. Moving their equipment, construction materials and other supplies required the involvement of 60 Army soldiers and logistic specialists, a RNZDF statement reads.
Although the RNZAF Boeing 757 is the primer star of the show, if needed the service also dispatches search and rescue units. Payment for the services of the RNZAF – simply called Operation Antarctic – by organisations involved on the South Pole continent gives the New Zealand economy a yearly boost of 162 million dollar. The operation started in 1965.