Finland's top daily Helsingin Sanomat features a main headline this Tuesday about military hardware manufacturers gearing up for a four-year process that will culminate in the biggest military purchase the country has ever seen.
The HX fighter replacement programme aims to replace Finland's Hornet fighter jets with upgraded planes in 2021. The run-up to the eventual decision involves five advanced systems manufacturers with global reach, all of whom want to sell fighters to Finland's military. The deal is potentially worth some 7-10 billion euros, and far more when factoring in the 30-year upkeep of the jets, HS writes.
The companies gunning for the top sale are Boeing and Lockheed Martin from the United States, Saab from Sweden, Dassault Aviation in France and the British BAE Systems. Before the actual offers are made next spring, consultants and communications agencies also stand to make a killing in the meanwhile. No one openly admits to playing the lobbyist, HS is careful to note.
"It's no use trying to reach me with lobbying speeches," says Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö. "The Defense Minister does not take meetings with lobbyists, which they themselves understand well enough. The ministry's employees may have contact with manufacturing representatives, but only as a normal part of their duties."
The paid representative for Lockheed Martin is former air force commander Ossi Sivén, who says in the paper he is a soldier and aeronautical specialist. "I get it if a specialist counts as a lobbyist in the public eye, I'm not offended by it," he says.