At its meeting last week, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy discussed the HX project. The Committee of Ministers was in favor of sending an advanced invitation to tender through five French, Swedish, US and UK administrations.
From the project's point of view, we received clear and timely guidance from the political leadership, on the basis of which we can proceed with the project as planned in line with the defense statement. The revised call for tenders sent in late autumn was set at a price cap of EUR 10 billion.
Within the price ceiling, a performance entity must be built that includes not only the machines and their weapon systems, but also other components required by the HX system. These include e.g. a support, training and maintenance system, changes to the management and information systems required for integration into the defense system, and the construction of security-critical infrastructure.
The Advanced Call for Proposals moves, as planned, to a model that invites bidders to provide full performance within a set price cap. Thus, if required or even enabled to remain within the price ceiling or to achieve full performance, the provider may offer 64 aircraft.
However, the criteria for full replacement of performance will not change with the advanced call for tenders. The number of fighters and their ability to survive and to make losses have a significant impact on crisis prevention and the credibility and performance of the Finnish defense system. Quality cannot be replaced by quantity or quantity by quality, but both are needed to achieve credibility.
So, the project is progressing and I firmly believe that it is possible to replace our Hornets within the original timeframe. Bidders have also been informed of the way in which the project is continued.
With the advanced call for tender, the more specific vendor-specific and tailor-made solutions sought will, I believe, also clarify the work of each bidder. In my view, there are no signs that any provider would leave the game at this point. Confirmation will be obtained when manufacturers bring their machines to the January-February HX challenge testing and verification event.
The author, Maj. Gen. Lauri Puranen, has been Program Director of Strategic Projects at the Finnish Ministry of Defense since the beginning of 2016.