Finland to buy 64 F-35s in $9.5 bn deal
After a 6-year rivalry between leading aerospace companies, Finland picked the US Lockheed Martin to replace its aging fleet purchased in 1992.
Finland will order 64 F-35A fighter jets from US contractor Lockheed Martin to replace its aging fleet in a $9.5 million deal, the Finnish government said Friday.
Helsinki had been put before choosing between Boeing, Dassault of France, Saab of Sweden, and the Eurofighter consortium of the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Lockheed Martin came on top and secured the deal with the Nordic state months after Switzerland picked the US aircraft.
This constitutes Finland's biggest ever arms deal.
"The F35 fulfilled the demands for preparedness, industrial cooperation, and cost," Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen told a press conference.
Lockheed Martin's rivals expressed disappointment over the decision with France's Dassault Aviation saying, "Once again we notice and regret an American preference prevailing in Europe."
Swedish defense minister Peter Hultqvist also voiced "regret" at the decision.
The battle over the deal had been ongoing since late 2015 when Finland started seeking a replacement for its Hornet fleet, which Helsinki purchased back in 1992.
This makes Finland the 14th country to pick Lockheed Martin's F-35, a fifth-generation fighter the aerospace company had designed as an all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions.
The F-35 was the product of a 15 nation program known as the Joint Strike Fighter program. Turkey was part of that program until its removal over a 2019 arms deal with Russia.