The working group which was set up to make a preliminary assessment of how to replace the operational capability of the Air Force F/A-18 aircraft proposes procurement of multi-role fighters.
The capabilities of multi-role fighters would be complemented with air defence capabilities. The need and possibilities to procure unmanned aircraft and other complementing capabilities will be analysed at a later point.
The capabilities of multi-role fighters play a significant role in securing a pre-emptive threshold which would stop a possible aggressor from using military force against Finland. The capabilities of fighters form an integral part of air defence and the ability of the Defence Forces to use fire power to impact targets on land and at sea.
The life cycle of F/A-18 fighters will terminate by the end of next decade. It is not possible to replace their operational capability with anti-aircraft weapons or unmanned aircraft alone since both systems would only cover a part of the capabilities of the Hornet aircraft.
The project to replace F/A-18 fighters will extend approximately over 15 years. According to the report of the working group, the project needs to be launched in autumn 2015 at the latest. Project-related information requests should be made and, ultimately, invitations for tenders sent during the current parliamentary term.
The procurement decision should be made at the beginning of 2020s.
The working group submitted its report to the Minister of Defence on 11 June 2015.