> our title:

Finland May Buy Combat Drones Alongside New Fighters

> original title:

Finland Mulls Investment In Drones Alongside New Fighter Jets

(Source: YLE Finnish Broadcasting Corp.; published April 22, 2016)

Finnish Defence Forces are considering adding drones to its shopping list for new fighter jets. Officials are said to have put out feelers to acquire hardware that could replace Hornets altogether in the next decade. Defence contractors have also been asked to table proposals to boost the aerial power of multi-purpose fighter jets with drones.

Finnish military air power may soon be supplemented by unmanned aicraft - or drones - in the next few decades. Defence Forces Logistics Command has put out a call to fighter jet contractors, asking for proposals to provide new craft to replace the existing fleet of Hornet jets, which are due to be de-commissioned by the start of 2025. That information is to be used to flesh out upcoming competitive tenders.

Contractors are also being asked to provide proposals that would complement the aerial power of multipurpose fighter jets with drones. Such proposals should be credible options in the post-2030 security environment.

The Defence Forces have previously used drones such as Swiss-built Ranger surveillance drones for non-combat missions. They have also acquired Israeli Orbiter surveillance drones. However, drone manufacturers are now being invited to table proposals for armed drones to complement the proposed fighter jet order.
Finland’s priciest acquisition

Last summer Yle ascertained the cost of the fighter jet procurement with the help of officials in the United States and Norway. Norway put the total life cycle cost of new fighter jet acquisitions at an estimated 29 billion euros, with the actual purchase price coming in at less than eight billion euros.

In comparison, Finland’s total annual defence spending is less than three billion euros.

The request for information that Finland sent to defence contractors enquired about more than just the cost of ownership. Suppliers were also asked to provide precise information about weaponry, training equipment, guidance systems as well as service and maintenance programmes.

Potential suppliers have also been asked to itemise usage and maintenance costs as well as to outline how these expenses have been calculated – an important factor, since different countries and manufacturers have different approaches to estimating the cost of owning and operating fighter jets.

The queries were sent to defence administrations in the UK, France, Sweden and the United States, with a request to direct them to fighter jet contractors.

Local Defence Force officials expect responses to their questions by the end of the year. Defence officials have said that they will release price estimates for the combat aircraft acquisition next spring.

Formal tender requests are to be released in 2018 and a final procurement decision is expected in 2021.