The F-35 Programme to Yield Capability to the Entire Defence System
The F-35 Programme (fmr. HX Programme) will have a substantial impact on Finland’s defence capability and the Air Force’s combat capability until the 2060s.
The primary task of the Finnish defence capability is to deter the use of military force and the threat thereof, and to repel attacks. The multirole fighter fleet is a defence cornerstone of Finland. In peace time, the main task of the fighter fleet is to secure the nation’s territorial integrity, and in times of crises, the main tasks are defensive counter air fighter operations as well as air and fire support for Army and Navy combat operations. The strengths of fighter aircraft include their speed and range, and the ability to concentrate power rapidly anywhere in the territory of Finland. Fighters can also be used for engagement of stand-off targets, and they complement reconnaissance, surveillance, and command and control of the Defence Forces.
F-35 to Replace Hornet Capability by End of 2030
On 10 December 2021, the Finnish Government authorised the Defence Forces Logistics Command to sign a procurement contract with the United States Government for Finland’s next multirole fighter, Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II.
The F-35 fleet will replace the current Air Force fleet of F/A-18 Hornet fighters in the years 2025-2030 and by the turn of the decade, the Hornet will be fully phased out as envisaged.
- The first Finnish F-35 fighters will enter into service in 2025 as part of the training of Finnish personnel in the United States.
- The first F-35 aircraft will arrive at the Lapland Air Command, Finland, in 2026.
- The F-35 will achieve initial operational capability (IOC) by the end of 2027.
- The Karelia Air Command will receive its first F-35s in 2028.
- The F-35 will achieve full operational capability (FOC) by the end of 2030. F/A-18 C/D Hornets will retire in phases alongside the introduction of the F-35 system. The F/A-18 C/D Hornet fleet will be phased out by the end of 2030.
- From 2031 onwards the JF (Joint Fighter), in other words, the F-35 system will serve as the main fleet of the Air Force.
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