HELSINKI — Finland plans to renew its aging Hornet fighter jet fleet by 2030, with three European and two US manufacturers under consideration, authorities announced Thursday.
"These five fighters are Eurofighter, French Dassault Rafale, American Boeing Super Hornet or Lockheed Martin JSF F-35, and Swedish JAS Gripen. All of these are possible and we don't have a favorite," Major General Lauri Puranen, a former air force commander and head of a government defense working group, said at a press conference.
Finland needs to replace some 60 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets.
"We are not commenting on the number of new fighters at this point but I can say the current number of planes has responded well to the needs of a country this size," Puranen said.
Finland, a non-NATO member which shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, plans to ask manufacturers to inform it of their interest within the next few months.
The official bidding process would begin in 2017 or 2018, and the final decision would be taken by 2021.
Military observers have suggested that cost will be one of the key factors in the choice of manufacturer, given Finland's slumping economy and push for austerity.
The country registered a year of stagnation in 2014, following two years of recession.