About Air Combat Missiles
(Source: Finnish Ministry of Defence; issued Oct. 15, 2020)
By Lauri Puranen
The fate of air combat missiles - present and future - has been speculated in public. The discussion began with the US administration's notification to Congress in connection with the HX tender, which listed the products and quantities that the US administration is prepared to sell to Finland at this stage of the procurement process.

The Finnish Defense Administration cannot comment on the content of the list published by DSCA in terms of titles, quantities or price information, just as it does not comment on the situation of other tenderers during the tender process. Discussion or speculation on the procurement packages of different bidders would also not be equitable and would not help to maintain a competitive situation.

However, in order to avoid misunderstandings, I would like to clarify a few things.

Construction of the performance package of all five HX providers is still in progress and the final packages to be offered will not be known until next year. I believe that the providers will make every effort to offer Finland an HX package that meets our strict performance requirements. It is clear that the package also includes air combat missiles. At the moment, the solution for all bidders is still unfinished and the bids will change and be renewed.

HX procurement can be adapted to a given cost framework. Procurement funding will be used to procure a ready-to-use HX system, including all performance elements. I am confident that we will find the HX solution that meets the full requirements of performance, as well as other boundary conditions within the framework of the acquisition of the maximum budget set acquisition.

The operating and maintenance costs of the HX system as well as the maintenance of performance during the life cycle of the aircraft must be covered from the normal defense budget, within which the HX system will also be developed in the future. The control over the operating and maintenance costs of the HX system, ie up to 10% of the defense budget, is clear.

Acquisitions and deliveries of the HX Procurement Entity may be timed for a period of 12 years enabled by HX financing. Each supplier will include elements - such as weapons or sensors - that will not be operational until later than 2025.

Regarding the missiles, the memorandum prepared by the Air Force Headquarters (and published in summer 2020) is correct. The memorandum states that the life cycle of air combat missiles is largely designed to coincide with the life cycle of Hornet equipment. Merely maintaining current performance for longer than planned requires replacing obsolete air combat missiles with new ones. This means that the existing air combat missiles will have to be replaced as part of the HX procurement and the missile procurement will be made in the same context and with the same funding as the rest of the HX entity.

Air defense missiles in the Defense Forces will remain a resource for the Air Force and Air Defense throughout their lifetime, but the removal of the older missile stockpile will require new acquisitions for HX.


Lauri Puranen has been the Program Director of Strategic Projects at the Ministry of Defense since the beginning of 2016. Prior to that, he chaired the Hornet Performance Replacement Preliminary Study Group. Major General (ret’d) Puranen served as Commander of the Air Force in 2012-2014.

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