The Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command has received the final quotations for the HX Programme from five fighter manufacturers. Next, the quotations will be evaluated in line with the invitation for tenders and the programme’s decision model to make a procurement proposal. After the evaluation of quotations is completed in autumn 2021, the Finnish Government will decide on the procurement, on proposal by the Ministry of Defence, at the end of 2021.
In January 2021, the Finnish Defence Forces sent a specified invitation to tender to the governments of France, Great Britain, Sweden and the United States, to be forwarded to five manufacturers of multi-role fighters in these countries. The aircraft types in question are Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet (United States), Dassault Rafale (France), Eurofighter Typhoon (Great Britain), Lockheed Martin F-35 (United States) and Saab Gripen (Sweden). The deadline was set at the end of April 2021 and the Logistics Command received final and binding quotations from these five aircraft manufacturers.
The final quotations contain information on the comprehensive solution and package, built around each multi-role fighter option; the aim is to create the best possible capability for Finland’s defence system while replacing the Hornet fleet. Within the maximum budget set for the programme, the tenderers were asked to prepare a performance package that meets the set requirements and includes not only the aircraft but also other technical systems, training systems, necessary maintenance equipment, test equipment and spare parts, along with weapons, sensors and other required type-specific support functions. The programme costs add up to EUR 10 billion.
The Parliament has approved an authorisation order of EUR 9.4 billion to procure multi-role fighters to replace the Hornet fleet. The transferable appropriation of EUR 579 million for five years will ensure that the procured system will be introduced as part of Finland’s defence system. EUR 21 million was granted to cover the costs arising from the preparation of the programme.
The HX options of different tenderers differ as to the costs of taking into use, construction needs and integration into the defence system. Each tenderer was, therefore, given a tenderer-specific price limit, and, in addition, a similar option was included in the final invitation for tenders for each tenderer in view of later purchases and contractual changes. The price ceiling set for each tenderer is about EUR 9 billion.
Evaluation of tenders
Selecting a multi-role fighter is based on four considerations: the multi-role fighter’s military capability, security of supply, industrial cooperation and costs. Security and defence policy implications will be assessed separately outside of the actual tendering process. In addition, it is required that the terms of the contract proposed by the HX tenderer to be selected are acceptable.
Since the procurement will have an impact on the Defence Forces’ operational capability and will define the Finnish Air Force’s combat capability into the 2060s, it is important to select a system with the best possible capabilities, including supporting elements and development capacity over the entire life cycle.
The manufacturer must be able to provide industrial cooperation solutions and a maintenance system that meet the requirements while also ensuring operability in emergencies and sufficient capacity to operate independently in emergencies. It must be possible to cover the operating and maintenance costs of the selected system from the defence budget.
When a tenderer passes the requirements regarding security of supply, industrial cooperation and costs, it will then be subjected to a final phase of capability assessment. A capability assessment will be made in phases, taking into account the packages offered and the capability values verified on the basis of testing events. In the last phase, a long-term war game will be simulated to determine the operational efficiency of each candidate’s HX system. The Defence Forces’ proposal on the system to be selected will be based on the outcome of the war game and an assessment of the future development potential. The Finnish Government will make the procurement decision.