Tag Archives: Finnish Air Force

US will not offer F-15 and F-16 to Finland

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.

Candidates

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.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornet. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Finland includes F-15 in ‘complex’ Hornet replacement

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.

However, Helsinki in December did say that manufacturers were free to offer any aircraft that would fit the country’s requirements. It puts new light on the deployment of US F-15s to Finland in May.

Comparison

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.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornet, seen during exercise Frisian Flag 2016. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

 

Frisian Flag doesn’t mind some Raptors

A knowing smile. During multinational military exercise Frisian Flag at Leeuwarden airbase, that’s all US Air National Guard general Eric Vollmecke has to offer about this week’s surprise deployment of US F-22 Raptors to the UK. This year’s edition of Frisian Flag will have to make do with the Raptor’s predecessor, the F-15C Eagle.

Last year’s participation left US Eagle drivers wanting more. No surprise for the exercise that has earned it’s credits in the world of military air combat. It’s something to be proud of, says airbase commander Denny Traas. And yes, he doesn’t mind playing host to some Raptors at some time in the future.

Whereas terms like coalition, leadership and multinational cooperation are usually the talk of the town during Frisian Flag, this Tuesday it’s Raptors what it’s all about. Sure, Leeuwarden is filled to the brim with advanced warplanes, but none quite so advanced as the F-22s currently in the UK, merely 30 minutes flying time away. Traas: “We are always looking for new aircraft types to bring to Frisian Flag, each with its own capabilities and its own limitations.”

The goal of Frisian Flag is to make participating air crews aware of each aircraft type’s characteristics. That knowledge enables pilots to put together large and mixed formations of military aircraft in an effective way. It turns pilots into leaders and single nations into a partner in today’s multinational military coalitions.

The home team. Dutch F-16s are out in force during the current Frisian Flag, which runs until Friday 22 April. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The home team. Dutch F-16s are out in force during the current Frisian Flag, which runs until Friday 22 April. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Noise

At Leeuwarden, that coalition consists of the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, the US, the UK, Finland and Poland, each sending warplanes to Leeuwarden. Their jet noise shakes the airbase twice each day for two weeks. It’s when the aircraft take off and head to the training areas over the North Sea. The impressive stream of fighter aircraft easily attracts hundreds of aviation enthusiasts – plus as many noise complaints from the neighbouring town.

Once in the training areas, the participants engage threats in the air and on the ground. It offers a welcome change to refresh skills that perhaps are dormant in current live operations over Syria and Iraq, where air-to-air combat is non-exsistent. Base commander Traas: “Frisian Flag fills that gap and results in pilots that are ready for any scenario at any time, with no lead times needed. We train any scenario here at Leeuwarden, not just those modeled after current campaigns.” Given recent events, has a scenario featuring a large scale conflict involving Russia maybe been taking out of the drawer after resting there for two decades? Another knowing but silent smile, from Traas this time.

An F-15C Eagle lights the afterburners. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
An F-15C Eagle lights the afterburners. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Belgian Air Component F-16 follows the above example. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Frisian Flag is about international military cooperation, which is nicely demonstrated by this German Air Force Eurofighter and Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 in the background. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Benefit

Both Finland and Poland would benefit from such a scenario. At the same time, neither country has taken part in recent ops over the Middle East, although Poland ponders to do so. “This is one of the most imporant exercises for us each year, along with the Tiger Meet”, says a Polish Air Force F-16 pilot. Despite not having actual combat experience, the Polish Air Force – celebrating ten years of F-16 operations later this year – bring something valuable to Leeuwarden. Traas: “They are the only ones bringing advanced F-16Cs, just like the Finnish are the only ones bringing F-18 Hornets. Again, the more aircraft types, the better.”

(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Hi speed landing, slow speed shutter. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Finnish Hornet pilot checks out the crowd. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
A French Air Force Mirage 2000D from Nancy. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Proven Eagle

As far as US Air National Guard pilot David ‘Moon’ Halasi-Kun is concerned, there’s still not much better than the F-15C Eagle behind him. “It is still the most highly capable and proven air superiority fighter in existence. The F-15 with its active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar brings very unique capabilities, just as the F-22 with its stealthiness brings unique capabilities.” Combined, the two deliver air dominance, says ‘Moon’.

Together with 40 or so other Eagle pilots from the Massachusetts and California Air National Guards, ‘Moon’ for the next six months augments US firepower over Europe. Frisian Flag marks the start of the deployment, which should see the aircraft and crew head further into Europe.

According to Leeuwarden base commander Denny Traas, there is a ‘fair chance’ that Frisian Flag will hosts another non-European air force in the future. Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) observers are closely watching the current exercise. Raptors or Australian F-18 Super Hornets in the future? Well, why not have both? Because yes, the more, the better in the air combat household name that now is Frisian Flag.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Video filming, editing and © Vincent Kok – Orange Avenue Filmworks
Featured image (top): A German Eurofighter lands at Leeuwarden. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Focused while landing. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Smokey landing after a tiring mission. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Smokey landing after a tiring mission. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
The participating F-15 Eagles come from both the Massachusetts and California Air National Guards, with the latter shown here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Germans are regular participants in Frisian Flag. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Noise is an issue at Leeuwarden, and this picture clearly demonstrates why. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Landing at the end of a day’s flying. (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.

Finland_F18_Hornet
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

Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015 kicks off

One of the largest military exercises of Europe kicked off on 25 May 2015. A third of the airspace of Sweden and giant areas – air, sea and ground – of the north of Finland and Norway serve as a training area for the Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015, or ACE15, lasting until 5 June 2015. Call it the Scandinavian Red Flag if you want.

The line-up of participating aircraft is impressive. Serving mainly from Bodø Airbase in Norway, Luleå-Kallax in Sweden and Rovaniemi in Finland, a total of 120 planes and 4,000 personnel are joining the simulated combat scenarios.

PARTICIPATING AIRCRAFT

A rare sight in German skies, an Eurofighter EF2000 that seems to be fully combat ready (Image © Marcel Burger)
A German Air Force Eurofighter EF2000, called Typhoon in RAF service

Combat element: 110

  • 16 Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F-18C/D Hornets of the Finnish Air Force
  • 8 Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18C/D Hornets of the Swiss Air Force
  • 12 Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16AM/BM of the Royal Norwegian Air Force
  • 18 SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripens of the Swedish Air Force
  • 12 Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon of the Royal Danish Air Force
  • 12 Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16CG from the 510th Fighter Squadron (Aviano AB) of the US Air Force
  • 12 Eurofighter EF2000 of the German Air Force
  • 8 Mirage 2000 of the French Air Force
  • 8 Panavia Tornado GR4 of the Royal Air Force
  • 4 British Aerospace Hawk of the Royal Air Force
GFD_learjet
A Learjet belonging to Gesellschaft für Flugzieldarstellung (GFD), similar to the one providing targeting and EWF capability. (Image © Marcel Burger)

Electronic warfare & command element: 6

  • 1 SAAB ASC-890 AEW&C aircraft of the Swedish Air Force
  • 1 Dassault Falcon DA-20 of the Royal Norwegian Air Force
  • 2 Dassault Falcon DA-20 of Cobham, on behalf of the Royal Air Force
  • 1 Pilatus PC-9 of GfD, on behalf of the German Air Force
  • 1 Learjet 35 of GfD, on behalf of the German Air Force
RNLAF KDC-10 with registration T-235. Archive photo (Image © Dennis Spronk)
RNLAF KDC-10 with registration T-235. Archive photo (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Tanker element: 4

  • 1 Lockheed C-130AAR (KC-130) in-flight refuelling aircraft of the Swedish Air Force
  • 1 Airbus Voyager (A330 MRTT) of the Royal Air Force (AirTanker)
  • 1 Airbus A310 MRTT of the German Air Force
  • 1 McDonnel Douglas KDC-10 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force
A good camouflage goes a long way, but in the case of this Swedish Eurocopter NH90 perhaps not enough to hide an overdose of black and especially yellow markings. The NH90 is called Hkp14 in Sweden, and introduction of the type in Swedish armed forces met delay after delay. That's why the Swedes ordered 15 UH-60 Black Hawks to operate along the NH90s. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Sweden may field one of its semi-operational NH90s to ACE15 as pictured here, but it might as well be a Super Puma, called HKP10 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Rotary support: 1

  • 1 NHIndustries NH90 or a Aérospatiale Super Puma of the Swedish Air Force

ACE15 plans to fly during two mission periods a day. The line-up and ambitions of ACE15 are larger than the first edition of ACE in 2013, when 90 aircraft and 2,000 personnel participated.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, based on source information provided by the Norwegian Armed Forces (Forsvaret) and Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten)
Featured image: Two Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s in action in the days ahead of the start of ACE15 (Image © Nils P. Skipnes / Forsvaret)

A pair of Swedish Air Force JAS 39C Gripen aircraft passing ground forces positions during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Ole-Sverre Haugli / Hæren / Forsvarets mediesenter)
A pair of Swedish Air Force JAS 39C Gripen aircraft. (Image © Ole-Sverre Haugli / Hæren / Forsvarets mediesenter)
A Finnish Air Force F-18A photographed from the L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
A Finnish Air Force F-18C (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)