Finland's HX Fighter Program, the winner is...

Finland HX Program Saab Gripen
Finland's HX Fighter Program, the winner will be announced at the end of 2021.

Competition between major military aircraft manufacturers for Finland's HX Fighter Program is growing fierce. With the Finnish defense procurement agency's request for the Best and Final Offer (BAFO), the companies are providing their best packages to win a somewhat greedy order (approximately € 10bn - £ 8.7bn). It provides for the supply of 64 new state-of-the-art multi-role combat aircraft with related weapons and services to replace the current F/A-18 C/D Hornet fighter fleet of the Finnish Air Force.

Aircraft under evaluation include the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen E/F, Lockheed Martin F-35A and Boeing F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet/EA-18G Growler.

Who will be the winner? As our readers know, we don't just provide an analysis for each contender, but based on our in-depth evaluations and reliable sources, our aim is to provide the type of fighter that will be selected.

We believe that in addition to the performance of the aircraft, the ongoing military collaboration with the manufacturer's nation will make the big difference. In the case of Finland, its main defense strategic partner is Sweden.

Sweden enjoys special status in Finland's bilateral cooperation. Their cooperation is based on a long historical bond, shared values, multidimensional contemporary ties and widely integrated economies.

For the most part, Finland and Sweden evaluate their respective security environments from similar starting points. Finland's goal is to deepen foreign and security policy and defense cooperation with Sweden.

Although military cooperation between the two nations focuses on strengthening defense capabilities and interoperability, it also improves the operational and economic efficiency of their defense forces. Their cooperation is based on mutual trust and long-term work.

Finland has taken an active collaborative role with Sweden for years. Their collaboration aims to strengthen the security of the Baltic Sea region, especially against the growing threats from Russia, as well as the defense capabilities of the two countries.

The Finnish Ministry of Defense said the two countries' future plans include deepening their mutual defense cooperation, which will be further developed to cover operational planning in all situations.

According to what you have read up to there, you have surely understood that we are betting on Gripen.

Finland HX Program Saab Gripen

In addition to being favored by geopolitical circumstances, the Gripen has the advantage of being produced in rather small quantities by the neighboring country. This gives the Finnish Air Force the opportunity to collaborate in the future development of the platform.

Logistics also favors Gripen. In the event of a conflict with Russia, the most exposed Finnish air fleet could quickly retreat to the Swedish air bases, from which fighters could operate with all the infrastructure already in place. The rapid deployment capability could also be very useful during the several joint exercises between the two countries.

Furthermore, the Gripen was designed to operate in an environment that is common to Sweden and Finland. It can take off from small airports and roads with ease (even if icy or snowy) as it is built with these in mind. It does not require much maintenance and has low maintenance costs.

Although the Gripen does not have the stealth capability of the F-35, in the event of a possible conflict, Finland's primary purpose would be to conduct defensive rather than offensive missions. Also considering that Russia's anti-aircraft (and anti-F35) missile defenses cover almost the entire airspace of Finland, stealth capabilities could be quite wasted.

From a budget point of view, the low price of the Gripen would offer Finland to also receive two GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft at no additional cost, as well as save money to invest in other military equipment.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: Saab

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