F-35A is HX – The Winner Takes It All

Back in 2017 I was fortunate enough to travel to RAF Lossiemouth together with a bunch of Finnish media courtesy of BAE Systems to get up and close with the Eurofighter Typhoon group operating there. When discussing the fact that the RAF was acquiring both the Typhoon and the F-35, Wing Commander Billy Cooper, then-CO of the 6 Squadron, said something that puzzled me.

You need stealth to be able to go forward

It seemed the Wing Commander didn’t understand which aircraft he was supposed to be selling.

Her Majesty the Queen being briefed on the other fighter the Royal Air Force (and the Royal Navy) is getting – the stealthy F-35 that is “able to go forward”. This here is the Aircraft Systems Maintenance Trainer in the Integrated Training Centre at RAF Marham. Source: RAF Marham Twitter / Cpl Wise

After what has been described as perhaps the most fair and transparent fighter acquisition program this side of the Cold War – one that resulted in an unprecedented five serious best and final offers – we finally have a winner, and it certainly was a case of a favourite that held. The F-35A was always the one to beat, and while Finland looked like it could be the place where it would be possible to do so (my personal opinion was that the Super Hornet/Growler-combination was the  most likely), it turned out that it was not to be here (either). The much-maligned stealth fighter instead took a rather resounding win in being chosen as the next fighter for the Finnish Air Force. With the FDF traditionally having been known to err on the side of conservative rather than the revolutionary, it certainly adds to the credibility of the claim that the aircraft is maturing nicely.

The strong points of the F-35 are at the same time well-known, but also often somewhat misunderstood (in particular in a Finnish situation). Yes, the aircraft is stealthy, and as Cooper noted that is indeed a big benefit, but it is far from a one-trick-pony. To start with perhaps the most boring factor, simply the sheer amount of F-35s sold is a huge benefit. As has been stressed from the outset, Finland can’t afford to be the sole operator of an aircraft (or even the sole operator of a particular configuration), something which the Hornet MLU-programs have taught the service. The F-35 will be around in numbers in 2060, and there will be users who will be as reliant as Finland on keeping the aircraft up to date. Yes, aircraft spotters will cry a bit as yet another air force convert to the same single-type force, but in the real world that does benefit the operators.

F-35As out of Eieleson AFB in Alaska practised dispersed operations in Guam, including at the abandoned Northwest Field, during exercise Cope North 21 in February this year. Source: DVIDS/Senior Airman Jonathan Valdes

Speaking of which, much of the hesitation about the F-35 has been surrounding how it is from the outset is conceptualised to benefit from being the NATO-standard, with concentrated maintenance and spares supplies. However, in what is a major win for the team behind HX, Lockheed Martin provided a unique tailored solution to Finland – one described in their BAFO-press statement to “includes many opportunities for the Finnish defense industry related to the direct manufacture and maintenance of the F-35 that have not been offered before.” This is in line also with the earlier talking points of Lockheed Martin throughout the past few years, which has focused on the fact that maintenance solutions and spares packages indeed can be altered to meet the needs of the Finnish Air Force (one might also note that Israel had no issue securing far-reaching rights to do stuff themselves, showing that while they arguably are a special case, the rules of the F-35 game aren’t as set as some would like to make them out to be). But while it has been reported earlier that Finland received a “firm commitment” for a number of components and sub-assemblies for not just the Finnish F-35s but for the global fleet as well (itself something significantly more far-reaching than most other countries), today’s presser included information that included a firm commitment that 400 forward fuselage will be assembled in Finland! It’s hard to stress how much of a different league this is compared to e.g. the Danish agreement (and how happy this makes me as a taxpayer).

This is obviously part of building the security of supply. The principle is simple: Finland is to be able to keep the aircraft up in the air even if the borders are shut. To ensure that Finland will have an indigenous maintenance and repair capability for over 100 components (including parts of the fuselage and engine), which is based on the items covered by the industrial cooperation agreement. There will also be significant stockpiles of components that aren’t on the list of items which Finland can repair and overhaul organically (often parts with very long mean time between failures, and for which it aren’t economical to build up an independent repair capability). Notable is also that the Finnish organic repair capability is not just for domestic use, but is also part of the GSS (the global support solution) meaning that they will be used to maintain parts for the global spares pool.

The package is unprecedented, with Lockheed Martin describing it as including opportunities that haven’t been offered to any other country. Company representatives also acknowledged that the road hadn’t been easy.

There were some tense moments.

Their Finnish counterparts had apparently been “very Finnish and upfront with us about where we weren’t meeting their expectations”. It is also evident from both the Finnish authorities and Lockheed Martin that the negotiations have been both tough and thorough, and lead to a significantly better final bid than would have been possible with a more straightforward process. An interesting note in the documentation is that the industrial participation comes with a direct 116 MEUR price-tag, which frankly feels like steal for the capability offered.

The F-35 is no stranger to the cold, having seen service in the high north on both sides of the Atlantic. Picture courtesy of Lockheed Martin

The weapons package is at the same time comprehensive and straightforward. The first package which will be signed off at the same time as the fighter contract is for AIM-120C-8 AMRAAMs and AIM-9X Sidewinders. Further down the road the package will most likely include JSM in the joint air-to-ground and anti-ship roles, as well as the AGM-158 JASSM-ER heavy cruise missile, GBU-54 and GBU-56 LJDAM laser-/GPS-guided bombs in the 250 and 1,000 kg class, as well as the GBU-39 SDB and GBU-53/B StormBreaker SDB II small-diameter bombs. Notable is that this will bring serious new capabilities to the Finnish Air Force, such as the ability to hit moving and mobile targets, on land and at sea. The procurement will be staggered to ensure that there won’t be a single huge batch of weapons becoming obsolescent at the same time, and to ensure that developments with new versions of existing weapons or even completely new munitions are kept up with (no-one is officially mentioning the AIM-260 JATM, but we all know it is coming). That the air-to-air missiles will be first comes naturally as the current Hornet-fleet is expected to be viable in the air-to-ground role longer than it will be in the air-to-air role. As such, during the period of transition the plan is that the F-35A is to be able to focus on the fighter role, with the ability to escort the Hornets focusing on the ground-pounding if the need arises. The total arms package is for approximately 1.58 Bn EUR, of which 754.6 MEUR is for the air-to-air missiles to be acquired in the first step, and 823.8 MEUR for later procurement (up to 2030) and which also will provide funding to the reserve in case parts of the contract will have to be renegotiated/or in case there will be technical risks. Notable is that the large number of weapons included had a positive effect on the evaluation.

Money, Money, Money…

Which brings us to what has been the most controversial aspect of the program: cost.

The acquisition cost has come down nicely, and the current contract gives a unit cost of 73.49 MEUR per aircraft for the Finnish aircraft. More controversial is the annual operating costs, and with impeccable timing I last week noted that both the Norwegian and Swiss life-cycle costs were significantly over the Finnish ones, 77.5% and 30% respectively if extrapolated out to 64. Extrapolating never works, but the difference was large enough that I wanted an explanation. Especially as the Finnish number is 37% below the current US annual cost per aircraft (though it actually lines up rather nicely with the stated US target). Luckily, brigadier general Keränen, Deputy Chief of Staff Air Force Operations, was happy to open up the calculations.

The obvious issue is that it never is an apples versus apples comparison. Switzerland famously include VAT in their costings, something that the FDF avoids. The Swiss also present indexed average costs adjusted for inflation, while the Finnish figure is given in 2021 Euros. The USAF also include a number of basing costs in their figures (and notable is that a USAF base include quite a bit more than a Finnish air force base). But Finland is also paradoxically assisted by jumping aboard the train at a relatively late stage, as the US don’t charge for non-recurring costs, and the partner nations – although they get a share of the license cost when fighters are sold abroad – have obviously invested significant sums throughout the program which now show up in their LCC. But there are a number of other key issues as well. Finland will fly approximately 9,000 hours annually, which is in line with the current Hornet flight hours. However, with the relative large number of aircraft that actually mean that the Finnish fleet flies 140 flight hours per aircraft annually – approximately half of what the USAF does. This naturally create less wear and lower maintenance cost per aircraft and year. Notable is also that the 2 Bn EUR in upgrades are placed outside of the 254 MEUR annual operating costs, a relic from the Hornet-era where upgrades were major MLU-style projects. Another key difference between Finnish and many other European air forces is that Finland plan to shift training from the US back to Finland at a relatively early stage – following their good experiences with the current (cost-effective) proptrainer – Hawk – Hornet pipeline. Keeping pilots at home instead of paying for them living abroad usually turns out to be cheaper (have you seen the real estate prices in Rovaniemi lately?), and we haven’t even mentioned the conscript mechanics. At the end of the day, all bids had roughly similar annual operating costs.

Side note: Yes, that means that no Finnish fighters will stay in the US.

The explanations sounds reasonable enough to me, but even more convincing are two other factors. To begin with, the Finnish Defence Forces is small enough that there isn’t much room for infighting and the Air Force can’t afford to start eating the budget of the other services. And while you might argue that I am naive on that point, even more crucially both external audits and calculations made by the MoD has shown nothing out of the ordinary.

The Norwegian experience of operating F-35A in the far north without doubt has played a similar role to the Canadian CF-18 Hornet operations last time around – providing a serious export reference from snowy fields. Source: Luftforsvaret Twitter

All of the major rumoured causes for the cheap operating costs – cutting any of the bases or cutting the flight hours – are thus out of the question.

All bases, both main bases, other air force bases, alternative civilian fields, and road bases, remain in use. The F-35A has no major issues with operating from the current Finnish network. The key detail that is setting the limit is the safety margins required for an aborted take-off. The old ‘hot’ MiG-21 and J 35 Draken have flown from all, including roads, earlier, and while the F-35A (like any modern fighter) is easier when it comes to the ‘flying’ part, it is also quite a bit heavier at maximum take-off weight. To ensure braking in poor conditions, the Finnish aircraft will be fitted with the ‘Norwegian’ braking chute. As such, the whole current base network will continue in service. The upgrades to infrastructure is broken down in further detail in the official documents, with 409 MEUR for buildings and 75 MEUR for upgrades to the C3I-systems. These include the (in)famous upgrades to cybersecurity in line with the US requirements.

There will however indeed be a serious upgrade to the number of simulators, but not to replace flight hours but to increase the number of simulator training opportunities.

A notable detail is that several of the speakers took time to praise the other offers and note the importance of the countries that provided them as ranking among Finland’s most important allies and partners, a notion that was echoed in the official Swedish MoD press release that in no uncertain terms stated that Finland remain the kingdom’s closest partner, and that the defence cooperation is based on shared values and strategic interests rather than on common arms deals. I will admit that I was happy to hear that, as there always is a risk of backlash in these kinds of situations.

When all is said and done

Having passed the gate checks – something that the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale proved unable to do – the F-35A then went on to beat both the Super Hornet/Growler and Gripen/GlobalEye offers in both the combat evaluation and when it comes to the future development potential. The aircraft will be delivered in ‘Block 4 standard’, though the iterative development path of modern aircraft means that things seldom are that simple. What Block 4 mean in this case is that the first Finnish fighters – coming out of Lot 17 in 2025 – will have the TR3 hardware upgrades that are associated with the Block 4 (including the sidekick upgrade that allow for six AMRAAMs in internal carriage) and what Lockheed Martin describes as the “vast majority” of the software upgrades. The final upgrades will come with Lot 18. The exact engine in use by then is unclear, though looking at the timeline it certainly looks like an uprated F135 might be an option.

The evaluation focused on a major war scenario, in which the air to air role was the focus (30%), with 10% weight being allocated to supporting the Finnish Navy (I can happily report that it indeed was a naval officer who was involved in this part of the evaluation), and 20% each to supporting the Army, long-range fires, and ISR. The F-35A ranked first or joint-first in all mission sets.

At the end of the day, the F-35 has beaten some of the toughest competition, including the bureaucracy and inertia, to come out on top. Following the string of victories it has scored throughout Europe and other parts of the world, there seems little doubt that it indeed is the premier fighter for years to come. As such, it certainly is nice to know that it will also be the aircraft protecting Finnish skies, and it is easy to agree with the official line that the procurement shows that Finland is serious about national defence and now is able to increase the threshold of a potential war.

78 thoughts on “F-35A is HX – The Winner Takes It All

  1. BB3

    Would love to get the final ranking of the competitors and how they fared in the very war game scenarios. Going forward it will be interesting to see how Norway, Finland & Sweden coordinate the operation of their respective air forces. I had hopes that Gripe E would have been able to go up against Norway’s JSFs in a couple of exercises in advance of Finland’s selection, but it wasn’t to be as the gripe n E is still a couple of years from being operational. I do think that in the not so distant future, stealthy drones will take the lead re: a lot of forward deployed strike & ISR roles and I think non-stealthy fighters can still have a significant role working in concert with stealthy UCAVs & AEWC platforms. I wish there was room in Finland’s & Norway’s budget for 2 GlobalEyes or similar AECC aircraft.. 6 AEWC platforms working together to cover Scandinavia & the Baltic, etc. would seem to greatly increase the effectiveness of the individual & collective forces and the ability to also share information with NATO allies. Ideally, Poland & Denmark would each operwte a couple of AEWC planes as well so that the entire Baltic and Nordi region region could be effectively and efficiently monitored and information freely shared.

    1. EMK

      I think it is pretty safe to assume the F35 acquisition will cause some interesting changes in the AF and FDF in general when it comes to intell gathering, situational awareness and processing of the data.

      My understanding is (based on my own thinking, not on actual knowledge) that so far the electronic intell gathering has not been woven into the day to day operations but has been done on expeditions flown more or less on demand basis. In other words, there has not been a system / organization in place (in the AF or at the upper level of FDF) to handle continual flow of large amounts of intell data.

      With F35 this has got to change. And, IMO, the system that will be created to handle the intell from F35 platform may become a “gateway drug” that causes a sea change in the thinking, and eventually directs more attention to this area in general.

      I am not saying the FDF doesn’t already appreciate the value of real time intell, they most certainly do. But at the same time, I don’t think the value of (almost) continuous flow of intel has really sunk-in to the minds of people. How could it, as there hasn’t been much around in the first place. And this is one of the things F35 will probably change.

      So, when the intell gathering, processing and disseminating becomes an organized day to day routine due to F35, it is easier for people to see and imagine what else that system could provide… if only they’d have more data. And to get more data, well, a dedicated AEW&C platform could be a nice thing to have. More over, it is usually easier to extend an already existing organization / function than create one from the scratch.

      The bottom line of what I am suggesting, is that the F35 acquisition may indeed help paving the way for an acquisition of GlobalEye or similar AEWC platform in the future. I certainly do hope we eventually get an AEWC system – and the sooner the better.

      1. jack

        I would assume Finland would use NATO’s AEW&C platforms.
        In this interview with 2 F-35 pilots. Both said separately, that the F-35 provides data equivalent to an AEW&C.

      2. EMK


        The problem with using Nato AEW&C platforms is that, well, Finland is just a partner of Nato, not a full member. That means availability of Nato AEW&C capability is dependent on all sorts of arrangements and agreements and is most certainly not immediately available when need arises, if at all.

        True, F35 has AEW&C capabilities, but there are also big differences in comparison to a dedicated AEW&C platform, for example on operating costs, loiter time, sensor range and spectra, just to name a few. These differences mean that one could and should operate these platforms in a different manner. To put it another way, there are overlap in capabilities but both also have some unique features and capabilities.

        Then there is the issue of the numbers. The amount of fighters (64 planes) is not that much given the size of the geographical area they need to cover. Redundancy in terms of AEW&C capabilities would not hurt at all, I think.

        So, I see these platforms complementary, not true options to each other.

      3. jack

        @EMK If they need an AEW&C they would probably be part of a coalition. I don’t think They have enough budget and need to prioritise. “In 2021, the defense budget of Finland is estimated to reach approximately 4.9 billion euros, increasing roughly 1.7 billion euros from the previous year. The HX Fighter Program accounts for the largest part of the 2021 budget with nearly 1.5 billion euros.”

      4. EMK


        You’re clearly not Finnish. Finland’s decision regarding the Nato membership is purely, 100% political. Viewpoints and concerns based on the needs of the military and its capability to defend Finland are not even secondary. They are dismissed altogether from political discussions regarding the membership.

        I don’t know where you’ve got your budget information, but funding for these big weapon system acquisitions does not come from the defense budget. All the bigger acquisitions are funded from a separate budget and it’s not the military who decides, but politicians. To say this in another way, the FDF’s role is to tell the politicians what they need and politicians decide if they’ll grant the funding.

        So, when it comes to acquiring an AEWC system, it all comes down to how well the FDF can argue for their needs. I think a reasonable case can be made for such an acquisition, but then again, I am just an average joe, so what do I know 🙂

    2. Poika

      Me too-somebody said that F-35 scored 4.47 points, next highest was 3.81. That would either be the Gripen or Superhornet, because Eurofighter and Rafale didn’t make it through all of the gates. I too am wondering about how well Globaleye contributed to the evaluation. Why did Ilmavoimat write, “The F-35 combat, reconnaissance and survival capabilities were the best suited of the HX candidates.” when the Global Eye can see hundreds of km in many wavelengths, and track hundreds of ground targets down to periscope size? Can F-35 really do that too? Perhaps they mean recon behind enemy lines only? But maybe the Border Guard will pick some up an AEWC like Globaleye with the MVX project.

      Additionally, I hope that Lockheed Martin honors their commitments and provides a quality aircraft at the agreed cost. I thought Gripen was going to be Finland’s chance to have its own awesome customized plane, a sort of Meteor-slinging, supercruising, radar-jamming Pyörremyrsky II. But if nothing else, the stiff competition and the design of the HX process probably allowed Finland to get concessions that they were not going to get any other way.

      I’m surprised at the number of Finns who believe this purchase will bring Finland and the United States closer together. The US government doesn’t even care much about its own citizens, just look at our medical, education, and transportation systems compared to yours. Even my veteran friends have had to struggle to get medical care for injuries they received while serving. Our President just blindsided BOTH France (our first ally) and Afghanistan (the one we’ve fought for the most recently), and our previous President had nothing but bad things to say about our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. I’m not sure if the average American can find Finland on a map, and it’s not clear if we’re going to have a civil war or a government takeover by Fascists in the next few years. So if you really want the US military to appear when times are tough, you might need a signed bilateral agreement, a NATO membership card, or hidden reserves of oil or lithium, and not depend on a receipt from LM. FWIW, I really hope that you will never need that assistance, that our countries can grow closer, and that we’ll stand up for you if needed.

      1. There’s no chance that the Border Guard has money for AEWC. They are desperately trying to get even 60 million combined (the Interior ministry hasn’t budged) for two. That looks closer to the Estonian King Air level of gear than GlobalEye.

    3. Jee

      FDF is already looking into UCAV:s and I have a feeling that some of the Global Eye long loitering and ISR capabilities could, atleast partially, be replaced by a few high altitude drones.

    4. bzh

      – no ambition for a european defense
      – US seems to sponsor the LM foreign sales by buying their own jets at a higher cost
      – i ve the impression that the f-35 is a ferrari that can run in specific circumstances. we should see how a f35 fleet performs during war time in the long term
      – i doubt that producing 100 pieces will allow u to keep the jet up to date when there is thousands of components produced all over the world

      1. Finland is one of the strongest proponents of a European defence, but when buying equipment we still need to buy what is best suited for us to ensure that we have a serious capability, being a small and sparsely populated nations that’s just what you have to do.

        FMS in fact ties costs to US procurement cost, but since the US is buying significant numbers of course they will get a nice price.

      1. f-pole

        I think that Steve is mistaken about AIM-120D having a different engine. I believe it was was the original plan but was cut due to budget issues. The original engine manufacturer (ATK) stated on their website, now offline due to acquisiton by Northrop Grumman, that they produced two engines for AMRAAMs, the original and the PEP engine used from C-5 upwards. The new engine isn’t mentioned in DOT&E or budget documentation either, e.g. https://www.dote.osd.mil/Portals/97/pub/reports/FY2013/af/2013amraam.pdf?ver=2019-08-22-111345-300

        “The AIM-120D is currently in development and the Air Force intends for it to deliver performance improvements beyond the AIM-120C7 through the use of an internal GPS, an enhanced datalink, and new software. Following FOT&E, the contractor will develop a System Improvement Program that will consist of software upgrades to AIM-120D.”

      2. f-pole

        AFAIK NAMMO didn’t change the engine performance, it was said to offer identical performance to ATK’s design.

      3. f-pole

        To continue on the AMRAAM engine topic, to best of my knowledge Nammo only manufactures the newer, WPU-16/B PEM engine used in C-5 and up. The cold weather problems happened because ATK changed the chemical composition of the booster grain due to local environmental laws, Nammo wasn’t under the same jurisdiction so they were able to produce the original design.

        The baseline engine WPU-6/B for A/B/C-4 is still manufactured by Raython, there was an order for them as recently as 2020.

        I haven’t been able to find anything that suggests that there’s a third, newer engine variant in production.

      4. f-pole

        Continuing my monologue, found a source that confirms that the engine is the same.

        (Neil) Jennings, (AMRAAM’s business development director at Raytheon Missile) said, “The AIM-120C-5 extended the range of the AIM-120B fairly significantly, by shortening the control actuation system in the back and adding fins to the back end of the rocket motor. That added pretty decent range capability when you go from AIM-120B to AIM-120C-5. The C-7 and the D share the same rocket motor, and the same form, fit, function, size, and control actuation system. And both the C-7 and D have the same rocket motor as the C-5. Throughout AMRAAM’s development, there have been improvements into the flight profile of the missile to get to the target. These improvements have led to range increases as well, and the jump from the B to the C-7 was fairly significant. The D can fly slightly farther than the C-7, and the C-7 can fly farther than the C-5. But this range increase is in the order of low double-digit percentages.”

        A development of the earlier AIM-120C, AIM-120D (P3I Phase 4, formerly known as AIM-120C-8) retains the same PN G672798-1 Plus 5 solid propellant rocket motor of the AIM-120C-5 and C-7 variants. However, AIM-120D delivers significant improvement in no-escape envelope and high-angle off-boresight capabilities over earlier variants. The missile now incorporates GPS-aided navigation for improved mid-course guidance and a two-way datalink for greater control over the missile’s end-game targeting. The AIM-120D also features revised guidance software to improve kinematic performance and overall effectiveness, and improved electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM).


      1. Jack, your comment seems correct based on how DSCA and the Federal Register discusses the sale of C-7/C-8s as interchangeable with the same capabilities and distinct from the -D contracts which cost more and the buyers are also buying new training and maintenance equipment alongside. The C-7 and C-8 must share a motor to have the same capabilities. The -D is a different missile.
        I read the government reports as the C-8 is an improved C-7 and not a -D lite. Because the UAE and Spain are acquiring the C-7/8 and neither operate the F-35 nor appear to making improvements to the firing aircraft, it appears that the C-8 lacks the two-way data link. They could have GPS installed as that would not need an improvement to the host aircraft’s radar/datalink
        (and also wouldn’t change the capabilities of the missiles) but also may just have the latest jamming-resistance software installed with no other changes from the C-7.

      2. Let me add that I don’t have a way to square the -D purchase by Canada other then that they aren’t using its full capabilities or that maybe it is a tell to their eventual new fighter.

  2. Duncan211

    AIM-120 C-8 version is operationell the same as the C-7. Only obsolete components will be changed. AIM-120 D is as far as I know not available for export and should have a better performance (range) than the C series. This might change when AIM-260 will be available as latest and best standard.

  3. Rav

    I like to praise your competition program and the style in which it was done. That’s how it should be done. Seems that it brought you significant additional benefits comparing to the other countries that bought the plane “from the shelf”. Hope the price tag after 10-20yr will also still be manageable. Hope also that the opinion circulating the net that passive stealth will lose its meaning between 8-16years is also wrong. Anyway then you will be still be able to update electronics or mount a pod. BTW still think the best mix today would be 32 EF and 32 F-35. This would be even more expensive.
    At the end I hope (and I am pretty sure) you will not need to use them in combat at all.

  4. Silver Dart

    What about theses ‘gates’ you’re referring in “Having passed the gate checks – something that the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale proved unable to do – “?
    Is there some clues about where Typhoon and Rafale failed?

    1. There were three pass/fail gate checks (life cycle costs, security of supply, and industrial cooperation). Fail any single one of those and you get a DQ in your papers and won’t proceed to the eventual evaluation that decided the winner. No comment on which gate or gates they failed.

      1. Silver Dart

        OK, that’s very interesting, considering these weren’t F-35 strong spots. It should be worrying for Typhoon and Rafale teams.

        Thank you for these details and thank you for all your coverage of HX : Finland was in the spotlight for all people interested in these combat aircrafts and you provided a well-informed english-speaking platform to share about this topic.

        All the best for the FDF in fielding and using the F-35 : Any hostile will find in Finland a potent adversary!

      2. Thanks for eye opening blog.

        Only resource in Finland to get background info about contenders.

        My favorite was European, Saab or Rafale.
        Totally happy with F-35, especially
        With price tag.

        Though Future maintenance costs should be transparent for Finnish taxpayers

      3. someone

        I’m pretty sure the Rafale failed the security of supply check, due to not having US air-to-air missiles integrated. That means in case of conflict, a Rafale-equipped Finland couldn’t easily get emergency resupply, there’s just enough MICA and Meteor missiles lying around. Whereas US AAMs can be obtained from the USA in large quantities, but also from Norway, Denmark, the Benelux, Germany…

        For the Typhoon, I believe the life cycle cost is where it was eliminated.

  5. 3ajit

    First of all congratulation Finland to a really impressive deal and thanks Corporal for guiding us through it. It’s a well-deserved outcome of the professional HX evaluation and I think the way that Finland handled this process is the key to the deal we see today. Now you all think “you don’t say” so let me elaborate. Finland managed to get all the major western manufactures to go all in for the HX that meant that whoever wins will have beaten the competition in a, as far as we know, fair fight and can claim that in all future deals. That is something we’ve not seen in in any other procurement in recent time that I’m aware of. There have always been claims of unfair requirements or bias processes and manufactures withdrawing before the end. But we haven’t really seen that in Finland.
    So the winner of HX-Hanke can claim that they truly are the best (western) fighter (sure there is always the perspective of the customer you selling to and what their requirements are but since all manufactures stayed in the race the must have felt they could meet those requirements). So here is where I think Finland hit the jackpot. Because when the suppliers understood that this process is going to be as non-bias as it can be they started to throw incensements to Finland to win the marketing rights of having the best western fighter. Saab offering Globaleye, Boeing offering Growlers and so on. But LM’s offer is nothing short of unbelievable IMO where they offer a non Nato and non JSF partner deals that other partner countries don’t even get.
    As a Swede of course it hurts to see Finland once again turn us down but I kind of get it this time. To turn down LM’s bid would have been really hard and if I can get a bit nationalistic the threat from Saab and our 39 forced LM to give Finland an offer they couldn’t refuse 😉 You’re welcome Finland.
    But could this major effort from LM come back and bite them? Well if I were a partner country in the JSF program and I saw a non-member country get deals better than the once we have, and also have paid a lot of money for, I might be a bit put off. But what do I know perhaps there is some random country looking to buy let say 88 new fighters that think they are entitled to the same kind of deal Finland got and if that doesn’t happen…..

    1. JFL

      …or look at it the other way. If this was what it took for LM to get the Finland deal, can you imagine what they will offer Canada?

      And I completely agree on the rest. Congrats Finland for a process well done and a good result.
      Thank you @CorporalFrisk for your coverage. You convinced me several times that ALL candidates where perfect for Finland.

      1. someone

        Canada is a JSF partner nation (they’ve never stopped paying into the program!) and has no other real choice due to NATO and NORAD commitments. I don’t see why the US govt would need to make the deal as sweet as it was for Finland.

  6. Svenska kocken

    My theory is that the US is more than willing to dump the cost of the F-35 in order to get them off their hands. Both US and UK will not buy the planned amounts and therefore need someone else to buy them. Essentially the same logic as when a car dealership rebates last year’s model in order to free up inventory space for next year’s models.

  7. VS

    Thanks for covering this, have really enjoyed your articles on the HX competitors. Now that the competition is over, are either the FDF or the manufacturers allowed to disclose the contents of their BAFOs? Really looks like Finland got the best F-35 deal so far, and I’m hoping they can get Lockheed-Martin to hold up their end of the bargain at the agreed costs. I can’t see how any of the other manufacturers could’ve competed with this.

  8. JoJo

    I think it is interesting that the combined strike capabilities were a total of 50% of the evaluation. Even if the primary mission is still to gain (local or temporary) air superiority over Finland, perhaps it’s best achieved by being proactive and destroying runways and anything with long-range air defense capability (including ships). With the upcoming ITSUKO capabilities, maybe most things entering Finnish air space can also be shot at from the ground, as long as there is enough airborne F-35:s to give them targeting information. The 30% weight for air-to-air capabilities might therefore be less for the traditional interceptor role and more for supporting whatever strike or ISR mission is needed.

  9. Rav

    It was your blog entry where I read “ I’ll never gonna give up speed” The Typhoon pilot quote. I new It was somewhere where it was worth to read 😉 just forgot where it was. Thanks CF. I also would like to encourage you to continue with topics around the Baltic and more. Your articles are on high level and even the comments are ok and on the level. It means you managed to gather some decent readers.

  10. säkkelton

    This outcome is pure fantasy, in historical context. It should have been.

    Pick any year (almost, you get point) from the last 100+ years and try to convince any of your fellow contemporaries. That all the major occidental manufacturers are willing to do their best to be able to sell their best stuff, that we have the means to purchase the stuff and most incredible:that the sellers host governments do politically fully support the sale to bring home the deal, ALL OF THEM! And no fantasy.

    This, this is called independence. Not just claimed, but treated factually and fully as one among souvereign nations. In my mind, from now on, 10.12 can be celebrated as a virtual independence day

    Finland already has a very capable fighter fleet, in ten years it will become one of the most capable in Europe! And that is a bad thing!

    What does it tell about the state of european defence?

    This, I presume, is the only political dimension behind the selection, if any.

    The current west european political mood in defence issues is a disgrace.
    France does not co-operate and overspends, UK aims at empire level but cannot find the means, Germany is fanatically anti-military and close to irresponsible.
    Most of the rest are kind of doing their share.

    Closer to Russia the mood is the opposite, as well as the deeds. For them only NATO-solutions are acceptable.
    No reason to wonder why, I suppose.

    Corporal Frisk, finding your blog was by fortune, but it really has been a pleasure!
    I do hope you keep up with the good work. Not seeing any for some time, brings about, eventually, a rather persistent feeling, kind of frustration:)

    Thank You!

  11. Throwaway

    Is there any word on whether the new AETP engine will be included? I’m well aware that the DSCA notice only included the F-135. That being said, it is my understanding that the FAF wants to use the same configuration as the main user (i.e. USAF). The time tables don’t quite seem to align, as the new engine is expected to come in 2027 and the first deliveries of Finnish F-35s is in 2026. Do we plan on running with the outgoing F-135, or did they announce any plans relating to the eventual upgrades?

    Another thing I was curious about was the grading. To my understanding it was based on a war game in which the target score was 4. As a layperson I’m not terribly familiar with how these war games work. However it does seem to imply that any offer which received a sub 4 grade lost the the scenario and Russia won, right?

    1. F135

      Regardless of the ongoing development projects, the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine will be used by Finnish fighters. At this point, the United States has not even been able to offer another option. Assembly of the F135 will be done in Finland.

      A completely new engine type, which would have been introduced just before the production of Finnish machines, would bring significant risks to performance. At least at this point, the Air Force does not want its fighters equipped with different engines.

      Pratt & Whitney says it will look at options for an engine upgrade after the Block 4 versions. The manufacturer is constantly developing the engine to meet the specified requirements. According to Lockheed Martin, the F135 engine meets all the latest requirements for Block 4 upgrade

    2. EMK


      You asked about the war game: “any offer which received a sub 4 grade lost the the scenario and Russia won, right?”

      First it has to be said, that no outsider has definitive knowledge about the HX war games and you should take all opinions (incl. yours truly) with a grain of salt.

      That being said, I think the term ‘war game’ may have mislead you. War game doesn’t necessarily mean an entire war is being simulated. These games are usually much, much more restricted in their scope. In the case of HX, I think there were no single war game simulation but a small set of specific operations and/or missions that were simulated.

      From the scoring scheme we can deduce that those would include
      1. air-to-air mission(s)
      2. ground support mission(s) (close air support)
      3. mission(s) against naval targets
      4. missions against far away ground targets using long range weaponry
      5. reconnaissance mission(s)

      Each of the above were probably scored according to achieved success and the cost of that success (in terms of lost planes & pilots, for example) and summed with weight factors to give the final score for each candidate.

      So, there is no point of asking who won in that kind of scenario, IMO. The game is simply trying to estimate a realistic measure for a success/loss ratio and not to determine who’ll win a war.

      1. EMK


        I forgot to add that you can find an example of a mission scale war game in this blog. In fact, it is the previous post titled “War games”.

        Link: https://corporalfrisk.com/2021/12/04/wargames/

        There are, needles to say, huge differences too. For example, in the HX war games actual real fighters and their support systems were used and the realism of the HX games was probably way, way beyond what one can do with publicly available knowledge and software. Nevertheless, reading the post will give you some idea how the HX war games might have been done.

        Now that this topic popped up, I’d also want to give big thanks to you for writing the “war games” post and all the other content over the years. Keep up doing what you do, you’re really good at it. I have enjoyed the fact that reading your content often teaches me new things and sometimes even challenges my dearly hold views. So, once again, HUGE THANKS.

      2. In fact IL had a rather detailed breakdown. It started out with 4v4 missions, then stepped up complexity and going to several missions in a row, and then to a full-scale war (two weeks in length has been mentioned earlier as the plan IIRC). That also means that things such as how much weapons and spares you have and how easy it is to operate dispersed did play a significant role, as if you fire all your weapons in the first two days and then can’t maintain damaged or worn aircraft in the forest before the Kalibr find you you are toast (and as opposed to what some have claimed, measuring this kind of complete warfighting performance didn’t help Gripen reach above the stated 4.0 out 5.0 target). With that said, we don’t know what 4.0 meant, if that’s a lost war or just too little effect.

      3. They HX wargames are indeed from previous shared knowledge known to be more about finding differences between the candidates rather than whether you’d win or lose a war with them.

        “The goal is to compare candidates, not to optimize the defense system. Because of this, the situation is set so that the ground and navy playing field remains unchanged in the war game. Of course, new ideas can be found for each candidate.” https://www.kauppalehti.fi/uutiset/havittajahankintaan-kuuluu-virtuaalisten-sotapelien-pelaaminen-prikaatinkenraali-keranen-avaa-tarkan-prosessin-vaiheet/b1505ab8-5146-484e-884d-fca68a0cdc9c

        In addition to this, it is known that each bidder was apparently allowed to send a consultant to advise how the war game should be best played with their package.

      4. EMK


        Thanks for the link. Now I remember I’ve read that article. I guess that’s where I got my impression that the performance tests (war game) would be rather specific and limited in their scope.

        Although we as outsiders cannot know the nitty-gritty details of the performance tests, that does not mean we cannot say or know anything at all about it.

        People often seem to forget that product selection is not some esoteric and secret science that only a few select individuals know how to do. The contrary is the case. People everywhere do it all the time. In any larger organization there are even a bunch of people who know how to do it efficiently – they are called buyers. The process these people use is a simple one. In essence, its just a cost-benefit analysis. And the first rule of thumb one uses when doing a cost-benefit analysis is that you don’t make things more complicated than they need to be (for example by introducing extra variables). No. You focus as narrowly as possible on things that can tell the options apart. That’s probably also the thinking behind the HX selection process as the quote from the article says it quite clearly:

        “The goal is to compare candidates, not to optimize the defense system.”

        People also seem to forget that defining what “war” means or even what “win” could mean is not at all that simple. When it comes to a war between Finland and Russia, there is no question that Russia could occupy the whole country if they so choose. But is that a win? Does that end the war? I am pretty sure they would face a guerilla warfare scenario and would eventually consider the cost of continuing the occupation too high. Or maybe not. Who knows. And that’s the point.

        Realistically speaking, a war game that would simulate all out war could perhaps determine things like: how long can the FDF keep on fighting, or how high a price could we (Finns) make the opponent pay, and so on. None of these outcomes would be very useful in choosing a fighter platform. There are simply so many moving parts, assumptions and unknowns at play, that for basically any scenario one could find another scenario where things went differently. All you end up achieving is an endless debate about which assumptions are the “right ones”, how high a cost the opponent is willing to pay, and so on.

        So, at least to me, there is no question about it. The performance tests were most likely a small set of war games with narrow and limited scope designed to measure the performance in very specific mission types (mandated by the law, by the way). All the available information suggest so. And so does common sense.

      5. EMK


        I am not dogmatic about my opinions. What is wrote is based on MY experience, knowledge (and beliefs) right now. I will change my opinion if someone can give good enough arguments to show where I am mistaken. So, is there any change you could point out where I could find what “the buyers” you referred have said?

      6. This link is the best article about the evaluation:

        “The wargames started with a battle between your own and an enemy fours-ship, says Keränen. The missions became more difficult, there could be several different missions in a row, and in the end there was a full-scale war against the enemy. In other words, the ground forces and navy were also involved”

      7. EMK


        Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I’ve read that interview, among many others.

        IMO, you add your own interpretation on top of what Keränen actually says. He explicitly says, that by full scale war he means ONLY that the navy and ground forces are included.

        In other words, IMO, Keränen does not at any point say or mean, that full scale war means simulating a conflict from the first hostilities till the end of the war in one big simulation. (I understand this is your position. Please correct me if I misunderstood you.)

        The fact that ground forces and the navy are included should be obvious anyway, since those are essential part of some of the mission types, namely close air support and missions supporting the navy.

        In the interview, Keränen goes a long way explaining how the initial starting conditions for separate mission simulations are picked in way that they cover all the phases of the conflict, from the first engagements to a full war.

        Again: What Keränen talks about is not a one big simlation of war as a whole, but set of smaller simulations designed to model missions that naturally occur during the course of war. IMO Keränen explains this very well.

        Please read the interview carefully and ask yourself, who’s position matches better to what Keränen actually says without adding your own interpretations.

        If you still disagree, please consider this:

        If the simulations would have been done in a way that you seem to suggest (war simulation from start to finish for each candidate), how in heck could the HX people make apples to apples comparison between the candidates? I mean, they would have had five separate wars and because of that, the missions for the candidates would have been all different. Impossible to make apple to apple comparisons. Not to mention, that this kind of an interpretation goes directly against what Keränen actually says in the interview, for example:

        (Sorry, I don’t have time to translate these quotes. It suffices to say, however, that “tehtävä” = mission and “tehtävätyyppi” = mission type)

        “Siinä arvioitiin vastailmatoiminta (ilmapuolustus), vastamaatoiminta (ilmasta maahan), vastameritoiminta (ilmasta merelle), kaukovaikuttaminen sekä tiedustelu ja maalinosoituskyky, esikuntapäällikkö Keränen kertoo.”

        “Keräsen mukaan tavoitteena oli arvioida, miten hyvin kandidaatit pärjäävät eri **tehtävätyypissä**. Miten todennäköisesti **tehtävä** kyetään toteuttamaan ja selviydytäänkö hengissä takaisin.”

        He continues:

        “**Tehtävät** olivat torjuntaa, hyökkäystä ja tuhoamista sekä maa- ja merivoimien tukemista.”

        “**Tehtävät** oli rakennettu niin, että me olimme asettaneet valmistajalle erilaisia tehtäviä ja valmistaja sai sitten osoittaa, miten ne ratkaistaan. Montako konetta kuhunkin **tehtävään** tarvitaan ja millaisia aseita, prikaatikenraali Keränen kertoo.”

        The other way, which is my position and which Keränen so well describers, makes it possible to put each candidate to exactly same situation at the beginning of each mission and that makes comparison not only possible, but fair for each candidate.

        I really don’t know how to explain this any better than Keränen already did.

  12. Svenska Kocken

    I want to add a huge thank you to Corporal Frisk. Your insights and knowledge has been absolutely vital to my understanding of the H-X acquisition process.

  13. BB3

    CF – let’s be honest, IL’s ‘detailed breakdown’ of the war game scenarios is pretty dang short on ‘details’. I think one has to have a vivid imagination to extrapolate from the IL report – any real understanding of how well any of the competitors fared in dispersed basing operations. We just don’t know. There’s also little official information about how the GlobalEyes may have contributed to the effectiveness of Saab’s Gripen fighters. What’s been reported is that the F35 performed better than the other fighters. One can assume that the Gripens were evaluated together with the GlobalEyes but the public statements don’t clarify that this actually happened. I’ve always thought that the increased situational awareness provided by long range AEWC asset would provide a ton of real world benefits in persistent pre-conflict as well as conflict scenarios, but there’s been no reporting of what the evaluation found in this regard. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’d think the FAF might well find that a couple of AEWC assets actually lowers the overall operating costs of the fighter fleet due to a decreased need for patrols. JSFs may well have good X-Men fighter radar, but it’s not close to the range and scope of what AEWC planes can provide and frankly, I’m not thinking the US or the FAF really wants Finnish F35s flying pots of ISR sorties with their radar turned on so it can he monitored by Russia.

    1. The ‘detailed breakdown’ was certainly detailed compared to the high-level speculation in the comment I responded to, I don’t think anyone expected more details than that. The packages were evaluated, which means that it pitted 64 Gripen with 2 GlobalEyes and 1.7+ Bn EUR of weapons against 64 F-35A with 1.5 Bn EUR of weapons, and the F-35A came out significantly better in a simulated full-scale war, something that run counter to the narratives seen among certain Gripen enthusiasts that the Finnish Air Force don’t understand the value of quick refuelling/rearming and ease of maintenance as these would make Gripen better in a conflict featuring dispersed basing. The ones with access to all the data for both contenders ran the simulation and came to the conclusion that it won’t, not even with AEW&C help.

      There are already F-35As flying close to the Russian border in Norway, with BAP every now and then, and Poland is also set to receive them. Sure there will be some restrictions in peacetime by the FDF not wanting to disclose all capabilities, but that is the case for any modern weapon system (including for the GlobalEye in case we would have bought that one).

    2. EMK


      “couple of AEWC assets actually lowers the overall operating costs of the fighter fleet due to a decreased need for patrols.”

      I doubt that. The plan is (according the AF officials) to fly the F35 fleet 9000 hrs annually. That’s only 140 hrs per plane. Given that we have more than one pilot per plane, getting enough flight hours for each pilot becomes very difficult if the hours are cut. (It is a rule of thumb in aviation that a minimum of 100…120 hrs is needed annually for a pilot to stay proficient, more to actually gain new skills).

      But you’re right in sense that a dedicated AEWC capability would allow us to monitor our airspace better and gather more intell because it would not be limited by the availability of fighters to do the job.

      Like you said, a dedicated AEWC system would also be more capable in terms of range and spectra. So, I support whole heartedly the notion that we should have such a system – not to save money but to increase the cost of aggression toward us and ultimately to save lives of Finns in case the s..t hits the fan.

  14. BB3

    CF – any way to add an ‘ edit’ function for the comments? We often don’t notice typos from auto-correct etc. until after the comments are posted. Thx

      1. F135

        Hi, and thx for writing about interesting stuff. What about Finland and Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD)? Have you been covering this, or do you plan too? Must be high on the wishlist?

  15. asafasfaf

    Renko already slipped that one current road base is “red” for F-35A and that they need to check how some runways can handle the weight.

    F-35A has to use chute in winter and Gripen doesn’t, that tells a lot, design goals are simply different.

    I think Finnish Air Force quite early on wanted USA fighter and from the two, preferably F-35A.
    Remember Puranen’s often used phrase on how bad idea is it to walk into car dealer and point the car you want? Not much bargin left anymore if you do that. This was something Air Force needed to avoid at all cost.

    Considering the goal and the end-result, Air Force could not be more happier, they made LM and USA feel unsecure and threaten in the HX, thus pushing for jackpot.

    Finland bought a dream of hitech and low operating cost.
    But low cost will end in 2031 as LM’s fixed cost only covers 2025-2030, but that is not army problem, it will be political problem as army funds need to be raised or land forces will go under the bus.

    How did F-35A dominate the HX wargame? Simply answer is Block 4. Current 3F-version is such that USA doesn’t even want to test it in China wargame. But Finland gets Block 4 so everything is happy apart from yearly cost that wil blow-up in the 30’s? Well, not quite.

    As everyone can read from GAO and DOT&E, Block 4 is in trouble. 3F was never finished, not only were they forced move items into Block 4, 3F was never on solid ground due to dead-end avionics architecture. But as stated earlier, Finnish Air Force wanted F-35A so these problems and schedule mayhem were ignored. Schedule is important not only for “things you actually get in year x” but specially for the wargame as it was set for spesific year or years. Delay in tech results direct point losses as you have less hitech force in use.

    It only takes a few (more) years of delay and first patch of F-35A’s handed over in 2025(for USA training) will have TR2 CPU’s instead of TR3 and final parts of Block 4 will go into 2030’s. Eventually some items will be pushed into Block 5 as time and money runs out, as it already happened in 3F. Due to obvious reasons, USAF has a plan to cut fleet size by 40% and is moving strongly in other aircrafts like NGAD. Realistic schedule for ALIS replacement is a mystery.

    If Finnish Air Force had a conservative reputation, it’s out of the window now. This was element I could not predict.

    Saab could go court due to several strange things, not all mentioned in this. But they won’t as they are doing a lot of business in Finland and T-7 being the prime candidate for Hawk replacement.

    I think this is Saab’s direct response for HX:

    1. So you are suggesting that the Finnish Air Force just managed to fool five of the world’s top defence companies (with business intelligence units to match) into thinking it was a competition, when in reality it wasn’t? That’s quite the conspiracy theory. Sure US fighters were to some extent favourites, but all three European companies felt they had enough of a shot to invest years of work and million into this, which speaks for itself.

      I believe it’s time people start realising that the F-35 is in fact mature. Yes, there certainly might appear some minor delays up ahead at some point, but that’s the a risk that’s certainly present for the other options as well, none flying the version today that would be the one to reach IOC. As for the FinAF, the conservative trend certainly is there (e.g. insisting that even if AETP is an alternative by 2027 they want the tried and tested F135), and buying Europe’s most popular new fighter certainly isn’t the high-risk move some would like to pretend it to be (it’s arguably more conservative than getting the F/A-18 Hornet was).

      I honestly have no idea what you are referring to that would enable Saab to even go to court – let alone win! They just lost, and truth be told did so rather more gracefully than some of their fans behave. Saab also remain a key supplier to FDF in a number of other systems.

      1. JayJay

        I am kind of in between asafasfaf and CF.
        To my mind, and sorry to be frank, the HX decision is purely political. Yes, there is some window dressing with a technical evaluation, but look at the facts : Eurofighter and Rafale were NOT evaluated. The gate checks trick is a nice way to eliminate the toughest competition, as I think the Rafale was in fact the toughest competitor of the F35. So you keep only in the evaluation the two weakest candidates (Gripen and SH) and you can say that the F35 is way above. Well done.
        That being said, I do not say that Finalnd took a bad decision : taking into account politics is not a bad thing at all. What will defend you most efficiently in a cas of a major conflict ? 64 fighters, or the help of the most powerfull army in the world ? Finland I think made a reasonable and wise choice, but frankly it has little to do with the capabilities of the fighters.
        Two or three things to add :
        – From the inception, Dassault never really thought it had any chance in the HX competition. True, they didn’t withdraw, as they did in Belgium and Canada where the tender was too obviously biased towards the F35. But I think their investment in that competition was pretty minimal. They did the job, but with no very strong implication at the highest level of the state. The advantage for Dassault I think was to foster competition and to force LM to price their offer as low as possible
        – In UAE in the last two weeks, decision to buy 80 Rafale F4 and to suspend the buy of F35A. Key reason seems to be in a nutshell : with the Rafale we can do what we want. With the F35 we are under close scrutiny from the US and we are limited in what we can do.

    2. juurikka

      For everyone not looking for an excuse, the fact that Renko stated his belief that one taxiing path would’ve been red for F-35A makes it all the more plausible that it was studied in great depth. If he had said everything works it would be far less precise and thus less plausible.

      “Current 3F-version is such that USA doesn’t even want to test it in China wargame.”
      Again this is you clinging to a too convenient simplification. Did you consider whether 3F would be the prevailing F-35 standard at the date which that simulation tried to gauge? Read the Defense News article, and note how they used Block 4 / TR 3 (which Finland will be getting), since it was looking for answers post 2030.

  16. Uroxen

    My big take home from this is that ODIN/ALIS must have a viable plan to become functional for dispersed basing which has been a long term issue with ALIS prior to this. Otherwise Finland wouldn’t have agreed to this deal.

    For Sweden this raises some questions over future airpower but practically speaking I hope we don’t panic and keep Gripen running while looking deeply into drones as an alternative to augment strike capability and increasing the airborne missile load available for national defense. Given the state of Russia Gripen should be good enough and able to incorporate technology development from the Tempest program. Finland also set a good example that it is not always a good idea to be an early partner of ambitious projects. By holding out they managed to get what seems to be an amazing deal from Lockheed with procurement costs far below other countries, essentially they are getting the F-35 by what must be close to margin costs during high production.

    I am curious how the cost certainty 2025-2030 is supposed to work out but I am sure there is a plan even if I don’t know what it is.

      1. Ehh… No? What VTV (Finnish GAO) says is that the part of the LCC that include the greatest uncertainties is operating costs after 2030, which is true for any aircraft, and that they want FDF to have greater transparency when discussing actual costs than has been the case with the Hornets.

      2. Sturmi

        I’m curious. I’ve read your blog for some time (nice blog btw) but I don’t know much about you.
        Are you a native Finnish speaker?

      3. Sturmi

        Swedish speaker? Well ok then… I’m sure there’s a Swedish version of the article but the main points in it are how other nations who have come up with different results in operating costs with quite a large margin.
        The Swiss (according to Helsingin Sanomat) have estimated that their F-35A yearly costs are double as to what Finnish officials have estimated.
        Holland has estimated 3 times the yearly costs as Finland and Norway has estimated their 52 F-35A planes are going to cost 12 billion more that Finland with 64 planes.
        So the estimation about the costs does seem to need some more “transparency”.
        Especially in the light that US GAO has reported/predicted the operating costs of F-35 to rise from what they are now.

      4. EMK


        The differences in operating costs between different operators depend on, obviously, what are the costs included in the calculation. There are no single correct way to calculate these costs, and every country does it in the way that best fits to their way of doing things.

        For example, the USAF operating costs include a lot of the infrastructure related to the operating the plane – things like hangars, taxi-ways and so on. In Finland, the similar infrastructure costs are covered by the 10bn HX budget (because those are deemed as a part of the investment due to fact you need to built it only once). Not to mention, that the USAF operates several purely military air bases, whereas in Finland, the AF operates from combined civilian/military airports (and so, the operating costs are collected from the civilian operators as well).

        There are also big differences in the organizations (size) and how efficiently they operate.

        You should also keep in mind, that Netherlands and Norway are partners in the F-35 program, and have running costs related to participating the program. I don’t know for sure if they include these costs in the published operating costs, but I assume they do.

        In my mind, the motivation for pushing these simplistic, absurd claims based on apples to oranges comparisons is either (most often willful, it seems) ignorance or plain stupidity.

        While more transparency would be nice, that does not help in comparisons at all if the other countries using the plane are not equally transparent.

        Finally, I very much doubt the FiAF would knowingly shoot themselves in the foot by using fabricated cost estimates. In fact, given the overall quality of the selection process, I’d rather assume they have been as meticulous and conservative in these calculations as they were in all the other aspects of the selection process.

  17. asafasfaf

    Just came to re-think that both F-35 and SH(that were TOP2 according Swedish source) carry JASSM and Gripen offered Taurus. And that HX had surprisingly heavy air-to-ground emphasis.

    This could have made a quite a difference in long-range strike that was 20% of points if scenarios was set to hit targets over 1000 km away and Taurus was already a “discarded product”. Of course technically nothing prevents integrating JASSM into Gripen E but naturally no such permission would been given for foreign competitor.

  18. Anonyymimuumi

    The state of Sweden have been a champ when it comes to the immediate announcement after the selection that it does not affect the defence cooperation and today we have a news that Sweden is taking part on Patria’s 6×6 (https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-12229069). I wouldn’t have really wondered or blamed if they would have shafted Patria after losing the Gripen+ GlobalEye deal.

    Perhaps the common worry about Russia’s current behaviour is more pressing than expressing disappointment, but I’d like to think that Sweden took very high brow attitude this time. I really thought that GlobalEye would have brought the game to a more closed call, but the dimensionless 4.47 vs something-something left little to discus. We needed the best, I hope we got the best!

    I hope the Gripen E matures and evolves to have 3 black belts against Su-27 and fiends. And I hope the European manufacturers get their stuff together for a stronger offer next time.

    Thanks for the good Corporal for the HX articles during the years!

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