After a busy summer, the autumn will be full of events. Much is happening with both strategic projects, and hopefully in the coming weeks. I get a lot of questions about the fall schedules and I found it best to open them up in the form of a small blog post.
Squadron 2020 project, I am hopeful that the entire decision can be finalized in the coming weeks. Since the whole deal - the shipbuilding agreement and the battle system agreement - is decided by the Council of State, it is not my job to reveal or anticipate its future decision.
The negotiations have taken place and the next task for the defense administration is to bring a feasible proposal to the Council of State, and we will. I believe that the solution we are proposing is good from the point of view of national defense, military security of supply and industrial policy.
The HX project is proceeding as planned. The first phase of the call for tenders has been ongoing since January and is now in its third and final round with each bidder. The rounds of negotiations will be completed in September.
The request for further details will be issued before the end of the year. I believe that we will be able to provide a more precise date in October. The call for tender will be specific to each bidder and will aim to optimize the HX system solution presented by each candidate. The requirements are still the same for everyone.
There is scope for refinement for each provider across all decision areas - security of supply, cost, industrial collaboration, and performance. Although the call for tenders is specific to the bidder, candidates are still treated equally. If the HX project finds that the requirements set out in the invitation to tender need to be clarified or modified, they will be applied uniformly to each candidate.
There are no big surprises, either side or otherwise, as the providers are pretty much aware of what's coming up with the invitation to tender. The call for clarification is a continuation of the negotiations already underway, meaning that it is not new information to the recipient as it was in the April 2018 invitation to tender. Negotiations will continue in the second stage, which will commence after the invitation to submit a specific invitation to tender.
In addition to the call for tenders, the Defense Administration is preparing a test and verification event called "HX Challenge" to be held in Finland in January and-February 2020. The event is hosted by Satakunta Airport in Pirkkala.
We will tell you more about the arrangements for the HX Challenge in October, but I want to highlight two points already.
Firstly; although the interest in the event will be high, the HX Challenge is not a flying show but a test event. That's why we need to think carefully about the event's arrangements and publicity, in order to keep test weeks quiet while serving those interested.
Secondly, I would like to remind you that HX Challenge is only a technical focus part of the evaluation and does not determine the ranking of the candidates.
HX Challenge's key objective is to verify what the candidates have said and promised in their answers. Candidates' skills can be verified in many ways, and beyond Pirkkala. In the final evaluation of the candidates' rankings, the performance evaluation of the HX project will play a major role in the simulated war game.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This statement is the translation of a blog post by Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Lauri Puranen, the Director of Strategic Projects at the Finnish Ministry of Defense since the beginning of 2016. He is also director of the H-X Hornet replacement program.
Prior to that, Puranen chaired the Hornet Performance Replacement Preliminary Study Group. He served as commander of the Finnish Air Force from 2012 to 2014.)