Military aircraft market 2021, here are most surprising deals

Military aircraft market trend
Turkmen Air Force M-346FA light combat aircraft.

While the 2021 military aircraft market largely met our expectations, it was very lively and offered some surprises. 2021 marked the finalization of various tenders around the world with orders of billions of dollars awarded. While the choice of some nations has been somewhat obvious, others have made unforeseen choices.

What mainly surprised us was Turkmenistan's order for two different types of armed trainer aircraft, the Leonardo M-346FA and the Embraer A-29B Super Tucano. Although the M-346 has superior performance over the Super Tucano, especially in speed, range and load capacity, both have often been competing in the same tenders. They are both capable of filling the roles of advanced pilot training and light combat. As far as we know, no one had ever bought aircraft of the same segment from different players at the same time. This deal has certainly been sealed in previous years, however it was revealed by Ashgabat last summer.

Another surprise came late last year when Finland selected the F-35 over the Gripen, Eurofighter, Rafale and Super Hornet. Many experts had taken the Gripen victory for certain as it is the aircraft manufactured and used by neighboring Sweden which has operational needs and environmental and climatic characteristics very similar to those of Finland. However, the drop in the purchase price of Lockheed's aircraft, fifth-generation capabilities and the platform's long life expectancy outweighed all others.

The 2021 market also surprised by the large amount of second-hand fighters sold. Major deals included the sale of former French Air Force Rafales to Greece and Croatia and the sale of used F-16s to private defense contractors Top Aces and Draken International.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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