Finland Inks $9.4 Billion Deal To Buy 64 F-35 Stealth Fighters

Finland plans to fully replace its aging fleet of F/A-18 Hornets with the stealth fighter by 2030, according to defense officials.

A magnet on the F-35 turbomachine includes cobalt and samarium alloy determined to be produced in China. [Courtesy: Department of Defense]

Finland has signed an agreement worth $9.4 billion to purchase 64 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets from Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT).

Finland's Ministry of Defence signed a letter of offer and acceptance on February 11 for the aircraft and their maintenance services.

"The procurement contracts include the deliveries of 64 multi-role fighters in 2025-30 that represent the F-35A Block 4 configuration, aircraft engines and maintenance equipment, systems, spare parts, replacement equipment, training equipment, and servicing needed for use and maintenance," the ministry said in a statement announcing the signing. "The agreements include F-35 type training for the Defence Forces’ flying and technical personnel."

In December, Finland announced it had selected the F-35 stealth fighter jet for the Finnish Air Force as a replacement for its aging fleet of F/A-18 Hornets, which is set to be phased out starting in 2025.

"The Finnish Air Force will receive 64 F-35A aircraft, a sustainment solution tailored to Finnish security of supply requirements, and a comprehensive training program," Lockheed Martin said. "With a combination of stealth, sensor fusion and unmatched situational awareness, the F-35 will ensure Finland’s airspace for decades to come."

The first F-35s are expected to begin service in the Finnish Air Force in 2025 as part of training in the U.S., with aircraft delivered to Finland in 2026, the ministry said in December. The F-35 is expected to fully replace the F/A-18 by 2030.

The news comes as Finland's eastern neighbor, Russia, continues to amass forces along its southern border, ratcheting up tension with Ukraine.

"This is another clear sign of how serious Finland has always been about its national defense," Mikko Hautala, Finland's ambassador to the U.S., said in a statement, Reuters reported. Hautala added that the F-35 purchase "is part of our long-term planning and has nothing to do with the current situation as such."

While Finland is not a member of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), it is buying NATO-compatible aircraft and military equipment to allow for "greater cooperation," Reuters said.

Last month and amid pushback from Russia against NATO expansion, Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Finland retained the right to join the alliance. 

"Finland retains the option of applying for NATO membership," she said, according to Yle, Finland's national radio. "We should uphold this freedom of choice and make sure it remains a reality, as this is part of every country's right to decide on its own security policies."

Last year, Switzerland also announced it had selected the F-35 as part of its air defense modernizations. The U.S., U.K., Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark, and Canada are international F-35 program partners. The militaries of Israel, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Belgium, and Singapore are also operating the F-35.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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