Finland picks Lockheed Martin in $11B fighter jet deal

Finland has picked the F-35 to replace its aging fleet of warplanes in a $11.3 billion deal, the government announced Friday.

Finland agreed to buy 64 of the Lockheed Martin-made F-35A fighter jets, which will replace the country’s F/A-18 Hornets, bought in the early 1990s from McDonnell Douglas and set to be retired by 2030. 

The deal, which represents the Finnish military’s largest ever buy, was hotly sought after by five U.S. and European contenders, including the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, France’s Dassault Rafale, the United Kingdom’s Eurofighter Typhoon and Sweden’s Saab Gripen E/F.

Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen said the country chose the F-35 after a military capability evaluation found the fifth-generation fighter jet “provided the best overall military capability to strengthen our defense system.”

“The F-35 effectiveness across air, land, and sea received the highest rating in the assessment,” he told reporters.

And Lockheed, in its own statement announcing the win, said the production work on the planes will involve Finnish companies and continue for more than 20 years, with F-35 sustainment work continuing “into the 2070s.”

With this buy, Finland becomes the ninth European country to pick the F-35, which has beat out offerings from local companies Dassault, Saab and Airbus on several occasions.

Switzerland in June also picked the combat plane, and NATO members Denmark and Norway previously decided to buy the F-35.

Finland, though not a NATO member, closely works with the alliance and in the past few years has upped its military cooperation with the United States as threats from Russia — which it shares a border with — have increased. 

Tags F-35 Finland

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