HELSINKI — Finland’s HX-FP multirole fighter replacement program has advanced to the next stage, as five aircraft manufacturers have tendered their proposals to the Finnish Defence Forces’ Logistics Command office. The proposals include preliminary quotations on cost.

The Air Force plans to retire its fleet of F/A-18C/D Hornet jets between 2025 and 2029. The HX-FP carries an estimated price tag of €11.4 billion (U.S. $13.1 billion), a cost that includes life-cycle service and maintenance overheads on a fleet of 64 multirole aircraft.

The government received proposals from four countries, including the United States, Sweden, France and Britain.

The aircraft types covered in the proposals are Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, France’s Dassault Rafale, the British-made Eurofighter and the Swedish Saab Gripen. The Saab proposal includes both the single-seat Gripen E and the dual-seat Gripen F versions.

Request for quotation documents were dispatched by Logistics Command to the governments of France, the United States, Britain and Sweden in April 2018. The petitions were then forwarded to the five participating manufacturers. The deadline for acceptance of responses was Jan. 31, 2019.

The proposals received by Logistics Command include information pertaining to technical systems requirements for operating a fleet of 64 aircraft, as well as support documentation dealing with training systems, essential maintenance tools, testing equipment, spare parts, weapons systems and sensors.

The next stage in the HX-FP program will be an analysis of the various proposals. This is expected to be completed during the first half of 2019. At that point, the procurement program will enter the first phase of a negotiations process, during which a more forensic examination of the quotations tendered will be conducted in consultation with the five bidding manufacturers.

Logistics Command will forward a more detailed RFQ to manufacturers during the second half of 2019. This will precede the second phase of negotiations. Participating manufacturers will be required to submit final tender documents to the government during the second stage process, which is slated to end in 2020. The Finnish government plans to bring its final decision to the national parliament for approval in 2021.

The proposal presented by Saab sets out the basis for a broad, long-term industrial cooperation between Finland and Sweden framed around any deal. The proposal covers the production of military aircraft in Finland. It also includes the transfer of maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities to local industry in Finland. Moreover, Saab is proposing to establish a Gripen sustainment and development center in Finland.

Gerard O'Dwyer is the Scandinavian affairs correspondent for Defense News.

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