In the picture, an MLU2 upgraded Air Force Hornet multi-role fighter. The fighters are currently on top of their capability, but they will reach the end of their service life by 2030.
The HX Fighter Program is critical for the combat capability of the Air Force
The HX Fighter Program is critical for Finland’s defence capability and determines the Air Force’s entire combat capability into the 2060s.
The primary task of Finland’s defence capability is to prevent the use of military force and the threat thereof, and repel attacks. This is why Finland needs fighters. Fighters safeguard the integrity of Finland’s airspace, protect society from air attacks and provide support for the combat of the Army and the Navy. Fighters can also be used for engagement of stand-off targets. Fighters also complement reconnaissance, surveillance and C2 in the Defence Forces.
Hornets will be phased out by 2030.
Hornets make up Finland’s current fighter fleet. They were introduced into service in 1995-2000. At their entry into service, their service life was estimated to be 30 years. In other words, the last Hornets will be decommissioned by 2030. They need to be replaced by highly capable multi-role fighters that can defend Finland’s entire territory. Fighter aircraft cannot be replaced by other systems. Ground-based air defence and unmanned aerial vehicles do not cover the range of capabilities of fighters.
Extending the Hornets’ service life would not be cost-effective. Neither would it be advantageous for Finland’s defence capability. The Hornets’ service life cannot be extended because their capability would not remain up to par and they would undergo structural fatigue. The availability of systems, spare parts and software is also a consideration that will influence the decision.
The HX Fighter Program will take approximately 10-15 years to complete. The actual decision on procurement will be made at the beginning of the 2020s.
Read more on the Ministry of Defence project website.