Finland orders 64 Lockheed F-35 fighter jets for $9.4 bln

A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, on April 25, 2018. REUTERS / Axel Schmidt / File Photo / File Photo / File Photo

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  • Plans to gradually introduce the F-35 from 2027
  • Brings non-NATO Finland closer to the alliance
  • Lockheed chosen ahead of Boeing and Saab, among others

HELSINKI / WASHINGTON, December 10 (Reuters) – Finland has chosen the F-35 fighters from US defense giant Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) to replace the aging F / A-18 fighter jets and plans to order 64 aircraft with systems. of arms worth 9.400 million dollars. deal, the government said Friday.

Lockheed Martin competed in a tender for the deal with Sweden’s Saab (SAABb.ST), US rival Boeing (BA.N), France’s Dassault and Britain’s BAE Systems (BAES.L).

The acquisition of Lockheed, including weapons, as well as service and maintenance through 2030, is estimated to cost 8,378 million euros ($ 9.44 billion), the government said.

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The construction of hangars and other equipment will add an additional € 777 million, with € 824 million set aside for the final optimized weapons package and to control future contract modifications, he added.

“By comparing military performance, the F-35 better met our needs,” Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen told a news conference.

Manufacturers of military aircraft have been vying for the deal since late 2015, when the Finnish Ministry of Defense began a search for a new aircraft to replace Finland’s old Hornet fighter purchased in 1992 from McDonnell Douglas, now part of Boeing.

Finland is the fourteenth nation to opt for the F-35. It will gradually begin to introduce the F-35 from 2027, Air Force Commander Pasi Jokinen said.

The election strengthens the small Nordic nation’s defense cooperation with its allies, most significantly the United States and Norway, said researcher Charly Salonius-Pasternak of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

“Finland and Norway already train together in the north, so it will be a political decision to determine what intelligence is shared and when,” he told Reuters, referring to the potential of planes to share data in real time.

Unlike Norway, Finland is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but has forged stronger ties with the organization in recent years and has chosen military equipment compatible with NATO members.

In 2014, Finland and Sweden, which is also not a member of NATO, signed an agreement to train together and allow NATO assistance in crisis situations.

“The F-35 will provide unique digital capabilities to Finnish industry leveraging fifth-generation engineering and manufacturing,” said Bridget Lauderdale, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program.

“Production work will continue for more than 20 years, and maintenance work on the F-35 will continue into the 2070s,” Lauderdale said in a statement.

Rival jet makers expressed disappointment with Finland’s decision and Saab Chief Executive Micael Johansson said he was somewhat surprised the F-35 had been on budget.

Dassault of France said the choice of a US plane was regrettable.

“Once again, we note and regret an American preference that prevails in Europe,” Dassault said in a statement.

Boeing said it still sees significant international interest in its F / A-18 Block III Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler.

Sweden, Finland’s neighbor and home to Gripen’s maker Saab, said it regretted the result while respecting the decision.

“Our excellent defense cooperation will of course continue. Finland will continue to be our closest partner in defense and security policy,” the Swedish Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Reuters reported earlier on Friday that Lockheed Martin was set to win the contract. read more

($ 1 = 0.8871 euros)

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Information from Essi Lehto in Helsinki, Mike Stone in Washington, additional information from Johan Ahlander and Helena Soderpalm in Stockholm Editing by Tim Hepher, Terje Solsvik, David Goodman, Susan Fenton and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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