Finland has chosen the F-35 stealth fighter to replace its F/A-18 Hornets, over four other European and American-made warplanes.
The decision, announced Friday, marks the second win this year for the Lockheed-Martin-made jet in a European fighter competition, following Switzerland choosing the F-35 in June.
“In the military capability evaluation, the F-35 provided the best overall military capability to strengthen our defense system,” Finnish Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen said at a news conference. “The F-35 effectiveness across air, land, and sea received the highest rating in the assessment.”
Lockheed said the deal would give Finnish companies “many first-of-a-kind opportunities to work directly on F-35 production and sustainment. It would also include “indirect industrial participation projects outside of F-35 production.”
“We have honored the government of Finland, through its thorough, open competition has selected the F-35, and we look forward to partnering with the Finnish Defence Forces and Finnish defense industry to deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft,” Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s vice president, and general manager of the F-35 program, said in an emailed statement.
In all, Finland is expected to receive 64 F-35A jets, as well as a “robust weapons package” and training, Lockheed said.
Finland chose the F-35 over the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault Rafael, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Saab Gripen.
“It was a tough race,” Kaikkonen said. “We congratulate the winning tender. At the same time, we understand that the four companies who made an excellent effort are disappointed. However, I would like to stress that all countries involved are very close and valued partners for Finland.”
The F-35 is also competing against the Gripen to replace Canada’s aging Hornets. Ottawa eliminated the Super Hornet from that competition, the government announced earlier this month.