New fighters will have a key role in Finland's defence capability
fighters safeguard the integrity of Finland's air space, protect society’s
vital functions from air attacks, and support the Army and the Navy in battle.
The Hornets will be decommissioned by 2030. They must be replaced by highly
capable multi-role fighters that can defend the entire Finnish territory.
Hornets’ service life will come to an end by 2030 – these are the reasons for their decommissioning
The Hornets were commissioned in 1995–2000. At that time, a service life of 30 years was foreseen for them. The following are the reasons for their decommissioning:
1. Structural fatigue
As flight hours build up, the fighters are
affected by structural fatigue. This has an impact on their usability and air
safety. Extending their service life would not be cost-effective, as it would
require major investments and system updates.
2. System support expires
The main country to use the current Hornet
models, the United States, is phasing out its fleet. The same applies to many
other countries. This means that obtaining product support will be more
difficult. Its costs will also go up as there are fewer countries to share them.
3. Weakening comparative capabilities
The Hornets’ capabilities have been constantly developed to respond to the requirements of Finland’s security environment. Finland’s operational environment will start changing in the 2020s as sophisticated weapons systems are commissioned in the neighbouring areas. This means that the Hornets’ comparative operational capabilities qualities will start deteriorating.
New fighters as part of Finland's defence
The new fighters will also secure Finland's defence in the following ways:
- They will establish deterrence against the use of military force against Finland and repel attacks on the country.
- They will protect the country against air attacks.
- They will enable defence on land and at sea.
- They will repel attacks by means of air-to-ground strikes.
- They will share situational awareness.
Fighters cannot be replaced by other systems
Fighters cannot be fully replaced by other systems. Other systems can only make up for a small part of their capabilities and tasks. However, fighters’ capabilities can be supplemented with other systems.
Finland needs new fighters
You may also find these materials related to the HX Program interesting:
- Preliminary Assessment for Replacing the Capabilities of the Hornet Fleet
- Government's Defence Report
Government's Defence Report lends strong support to the HX Programme
The Government report (2017) notes:
“In order to maintain the defence capability, the Hornet fleet’s capability, which is to be phased out in the mid-2020s, will be replaced in full to meet the requirements of the security environment.
Nationwide air defence and the maintenance of deterrence necessitate replacing the Air Force’s key defence system with capable multi-role fighters from 2025 onwards.
The multi-role fighters carry out territorial surveillance, engage targets in the air and on land and sea, and supplement the Defence Forces’ C4ISR system. Anti-aircraft defence capabilities will complement those of the multi-role fighter. It is not possible to substitute the Hornet fleet’s capability with GBAD systems or with any unmanned aerial vehicles already in operational use or on the design board; they would cover but a part of the Hornet fleet’s capability.
The capability of the new multi-role fighter is planned to be viable for at least 30 years, i.e. into the 2060s. The projected cost of the programme is EUR 7—10 billion. The procurement decision will be made in the early 2020s.