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1,3 billion to renovate Finnish Hornet fighters

(B2)Finnish parliamentarians are still choking... Updating the Hornet fighter planes should cost – until 2017 – “a little over a billion euros” according to the Minister of Defense. “1,3 billion euros (missiles included)” according to the air force, cited by Helsingin Sanomat. Nothing extraordinary, replies the Ministry of Defense. It was expected…

Finland decided in 1992 to modernize its air fleet and finally opted for 64 American-made F/A 18 Hornets (Mac Donnel Douglas), purchased in 1995 (57 in the C version – single seat – and 7 in the D version – double seat) and reconfigured locally. Cost: 3 billion euros. The planes are not equipped with certain avionics equipment, target identification and ground attack capability (in fact they are more F18 – air combat planes – than F/A 18 – planes combat and attack). These planes are in fact, above all, intended to ensure the defense of the territory, to prevent air incursions and therefore suitable for aerial combat. The Finnish non-aggressive policy, in force at the beginning of the 1990s (when the first purchasing decision was taken), aims to not equip its armed forces with offensive equipment that could be perceived as a “threat” by the Soviets.

After the breakup of the USSR, the Finnish vision of defense and strategy evolved. Equipment is necessary to restore these machines to their attack capacity. A first phase of renovation (MLU1) – planned in the 2001 national white paper, is underway, estimated at 325 million euros. It consists of equipping planes with new Air-Air missiles and more efficient targeting systems. The second renovation (MLU2) – planned in the 2004 national white paper – aims to equip them with air-ground action. This could be of three types, according to the commander of the Air Force, Major General Jarmo Lindberg, cited by Helsingin Sanomat: JASSM missiles – if the Americans agree to provide them to the Finns * -, AGM-154C JSOW bombs, or even “smart” Boeing JDAM-type bombs (with a range of around twenty kilometers, guided by GPS). This renovation would allow the planes to be operational beyond 2020. Other details on the website of the Finnish Ministry of Defence.


* In February 2007, the Americans refused the delivery of these missiles, believing that the planes must first be modernized.

(Photo: Finnish Air Force)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).