F-35 in Finland
On May 23, F-35A aircraft from the 421st Fighter Squadron [US Air Force] from Hill Air Base (Utah) flew to Aviano Air Base in Italy. After a short tour of cities and countries of Europe on June 13, they moved from German Spangdalem to Finnish Turku.
On 15-16 June, the Turku Airshow airshow was held in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Finnish Aviation Association FAA (Finnish Aeronautical Association) and the 75th anniversary of the end of the Soviet-Finnish war of 1941-1944 (the continuation war).
Also in the airshow took part the Swedish Gripend, the French Rafaled, the English Typhoons, the Finnish aerobatic team Midnight Hawks performed, the owners of historical aircraft demonstrated their cars in the air. But the participation of American F-35 was not originally announced.
On Monday, May 17, both American aircraft flew out of Turku and, flying over the Baltic Sea, landed in Norwegian Orland, where they worked together for two days on training flights, and then returned to Spangdahlem.
It should be noted that the F-35 first appeared in Finland, and most likely this event is directly related to the upcoming competition for the project HX
Most of the resources of the Runet with Pont use the name of the program, such as for solidity, but none of them explains why the HX? It turns out that this construction of the abbreviation is considered traditional for the rearmament programs in the modern air forces of Finland:
H = Hornet - the first letter is derived from the name of the car being replaced;
X = it happened with the United States, but it gradually got accustomed almost everywhere that the letter X is usually used as an identifier to designate promising models of weapons and military equipment.
The HX program began in 2015 to replace the F / A-18C / D Hornet fighter-bomber in the country's Air Force, which will expire in the years 2025-2030. Five multipurpose fighters are participating in the Finnish tender. In addition to the only fifth-generation aircraft, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II decided to risk four more applicants of the 4 and 4.5 generations - the Boeing F / A-18E / F Super Hornet, the Saab JAS-39E / F Gripen, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon (now BAE Systems). As you can see, almost all of them except Super Hornet took part in the air show in Turku on Saturday and Sunday, and Gripen, Typhoon and Rafali demonstrated their capabilities in flight, and Lightning 2 showed only in static exposure.
Obviously, in such a simple way, manufacturers are trying to increase their chances in the competition. But no matter how hard they try, the prelude of the main fight will unfold with the advent of the new 2020, when the tests of the applicants begin. Within two weeks, each fighter will undergo a 10-day test program at the Finnish aerodrome of Pirkkala. For example, flights of the F-35 will begin there on February 7. Unfortunately the Finns, they themselves will not be able to check the car in flight - the F-35 does not have a double version. They will be piloted by either US Air Force pilots or factory testers.
Then, throughout the year, the Air Force specialists will analyze the test results, and then will transmit their recommendations to the government, which should make a decision on the acquisition in 2021. This is where the fun begins.
Already, the program promises to be the largest arms contract for Finland with a framework value of 7-10 billion euros, and this amount does not include the purchase of weapons and equipment, as well as the cost of maintenance and modernization during the life cycle of new machines. But with an estimated demand of 100-120 multi-role fighters for the defense of Finland, a request for information in 2016 involved the purchase of up to 64 new cars, and later four parliamentary parties proposed reducing their number to 48.
According to the schedule of the project, the fighters of the program HX should appear in Finland in the years 2025-2030.