Finland Begins Testing Replacements for Dated Hornet Fleet
(Source: Finnish Broadcasting Corp., YLE; issued Jan 09, 2020)
Finnish pilots will today begin kicking the tyres on the Eurofighter Typhoon jet in trials due to last until the end of February. Finland aims to take the new fighter fleet into use between 2025 and 2030. (Finnish AF screen grab)
Finland's Air force began testing candidate aircraft vying to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of fighter jets on Thursday, as the government weighs a purchasing decision due next year.

Each of the five short-listed manufacturers will bring their aircraft to Finland for a week of flight tests at the Satakunta Air Command in Pirkkala, in the Tampere region. The field tests will run until the end of February.

The first fighter jet up for assessment is the Eurofighter Typhoon, followed by Lockheed Martin's multi-purpose F-35 combat aircraft and Boeing's F/A 18 Super Hornet.

French firm Dassault's Rafale and Swedish Saab's Gripen E round out the contenders to replace the fleet of fighter jets.

Finland has sent all five manufacturers follow-up invitations to tender bids to completely replace the current Hornet fleet. Their responses are expected by the end of January.

A final binding invitation to tender will be sent out later this year and the government will make a purchasing decision in 2021. The aim is to commission the new fleet between 2025 and 2030.

The total estimated cost of the acquisition has been pegged at between seven and 10 billion euros, excluding lifetime costs such as spare parts and maintenance.

The original Hornet fleet was purchased in 1992 and will be phased out by 2025.


Eurofighter Jets Arrive At Pirkkala For Top Gun Tests
(Source: NewsNow; posted Jan. 09, 2020)
The Finnish Air Force is conducting a rigorous in-country evaluation of the five contenders to replace the ageing fleet of Hornet jets.

Two Eurofighter Typhoon jets have touched down at Pirkkala Air Force Base to start two weeks of intensive testing and evaluation.

They’re the first of five aircraft types which will arrive in Finland in the coming weeks, as the Air Force weighs up the pros and cons of each in the process to determine which company will win the €10 billion contract to replace the country’s ageing fleet of Hornet jets.

The Eurofighters are from Britain’s Royal Air Force 41 Squadron, the RAF’s fast jet test unit equipped with Typhoon aircraft and based in Lincolnshire.

The aircraft will take part in simulated long-term war games, where the candidate jets will play their roles as part of Finland’s defence systems. In the simulated battles they’ll face the Air Force’s current F/A-18 Hornets and Hawk jet trainers.

The Air Force says the event is taking place in Finland so that each plane can be tested under Finnish winter operating conditions – and also to provide a balanced evaluation for each of the five candidate aircraft.

The other contenders taking part in ‘Operation HX Challenge’ are America’s Lockheed Martin F-35 and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet; France’s Dassault Rafale; and Sweden’s Saab Gripen

Although all the aircraft are designed to operate in sub-zero temperatures, the challenges come when the temperatures hover around freezing with snow, sleet or freezing drizzle throwing extra challenges at the jets. Harsh weather conditions can have an impact on the performance of electro-optical sensors in particular.


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