UK outlines final Eurofighter offering for Finland

On behalf of the Eurofighter consortium, the UK has outlined the best and final offer (BAFO) in its Typhoon proposal for Finland, which seeks to procure a new multi-role fighter to replace its ageing Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet.

The BAFO for this UK-led proposal in Finland’s highly anticipated HX Fighter replacement programme was submitted on April 29. While led by the UK, the offer has also been endorsed by the governments, air forces and defence industries of Germany, Italy and Spain – which make up the core nations of the Eurofighter consortium.

Finnish Air Force Typhoons [BAE Systems]
The Eurofighter consortium announced it had submitted its best and final offer (BAFO) for its Typhoon bid to Finland under the nation's HX Fighter replacement programme on April 29, 2021. BAE Systems

Speaking to Key.Aero and other defence media outlets on April 29, the UK Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, and representatives from UK-based firms affiliated with the Eurofighter consortium, such as BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, detailed the final offer for the Finnish programme.

Quin said: “The Eurofighter partnership on offer represents the best all-round package for Finland. It is affordable within the Finnish budget; it provides security of supply through industrial participation that delivers high-tech jobs for the duration of the aircraft’s service life, and it delivers outstanding military capability, all underpinned by a government-to-government partnership.”

The total number of aircraft and procurement costs relating to the Eurofighter bid were not disclosed. However, it was confirmed that Finland would have a role in the future capability development of a new advanced radar for the Typhoon, if selected.

Notably, the bid outlines that more than 80 packages of in-country work for Finnish companies would be generated with the Typhoon’s selection, resulting in the creation of high-quality, long-term jobs in the nation’s domestic defence industry. The consortium noted that this work would equate to 20 million man hours over a 30-year period across the Finnish economy.

RAF Typhoon over Finland [BAE Systems]
BAE Systems states that the Eurofighter offer promises to provide "an enduring European partnership, highly-skilled jobs and proven capability, which will remain the backbone of air power for decades to come." BAE Systems

These work packages include the establishment of a final assembly line in Finland, as well as giving the nation an ability to produce the multi-role fighter’s EuroJet EJ200 low-bypass afterburning turbofan engines. The BAFO details that these work packages would also include technology transfers on mission data generation and electronic warfare, along with maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities.

Finland would retain full ownership of the aircraft too, allowing the country to upgrade and maintain the fleet as it wishes. The consortium added that Finland would have the “largest in-country support network” for the type of any operator, outside the four core nations.

Andrea Thompson, managing director of Europe & International at BAE Systems Air, boasts that the Eurofighter BAFO exceeds both the direct and indirect industrial participation targets set by Finland in the HX programme. “The jobs that we are offering are high-quality, long-term jobs equating to over 20 million man hours over 30 years, with the knock on benefit to the wider economy driving this figure even higher”, she said.

During the press event, it was confirmed that the Eurofighter Typhoon is being offered to Finland with an array of already integrated munitions – any of which are already employed by Typhoons operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF). This includes MBDA’s Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM); Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM); and Storm Shadow low-observable air-launched cruise missile.

RAF Typhoon over Finland [BAE Systems]
A Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 belonging to the Royal Air Force in flight over Finland on January 10, 2020. During this deployment, British examples of the multi-role fighter took part in the HX Challenge - a fly-off between the contending platforms in Finland's wider HX Fighter replacement programme. BAE Systems

MBDA’s new family of Select Precision Effects at Range (SPEAR) family of air-to-ground/surface munitions are also featured in the selection. The Typhoon will be able to carry up to 12 SPEAR weapons when the munition is integrated onto RAF examples later this decade, which would be the same for Finland. Raytheon’s AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) and Paveway IV laser-guided bomb are also included in the offer.

In terms of training, the Chief of the Air Staff ACM Mike Wigston, confirmed that the RAF would train Finnish pilots to fly the Typhoon and would be responsible for the transfer of know-how to the Finnish Air Force. When asked if this would be a similar set-up to the UK-Qatari joint Typhoon training unit at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, Wigston noted that current plans would only see a squadron’s worth of Finnish pilots for training to instructor standard. However, he added that the RAF would be open to further partnerships with Finland in this area.

The HX Fighter programme was established by the Finnish Ministry of Defence to source a replacement for the air force’s fleet of F/A-18C/D Hornet multi-role fighters, which entered operational service in 1995. This matured fleet boasts a service life expectancy of 30 years, which it is approaching the end of. Due to this fact, the Finnish Air Force will have phased out its remaining Hornets by 2030.

Finnish F/A-18C [Khalem Chapman]
The F/A-18C/D Hornet has provided the backbone of the Finnish Air Force's air combat capability for almost 30 years. Having entered operational service in 1995, the type has almost reached the end of its projected 30-year useful service life and will be completely retired from Finnish service by 2030. Khalem Chapman

In total, five bidders have thrown their hat into the ring to provide Finland with a successor to its venerable F/A-18C/D fleet. Aside from Eurofighter’s bid, the other contenders include Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft; Dassault’s Rafale; Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Lightning II multi-role stealth fighter; and Saab’s Gripen E/F. The Swedish firm has included the GlobalEye multi-domain airborne early warning and control alongside the Gripen E/F multi-role fighter as part of its offer.

The other contending firms are also due to reveal their BAFOs for the HX programme in the coming days, with Saab due to detail its final proposal tomorrow. Following this, all eyes will be on Finland as the nation is set to announce which of these multi-role fighters will succeed the F/A-18C/Ds in operational service by the end of this year. At present, it is anticipated that deliveries of the new fighter will begin in 2025.