HELSINKI ― The Finnish government has created an industrial task force to identify subcontract and co-investment opportunities for indigenous defense, information technology and security industry companies linked to the country’s $12 billion fighter replacement project, the HX Fighter Program.

The government initiative aims to connect Finnish advanced technology companies to subcontracting and investment cooperation opportunities within the HX-FP contract framework.

The Ministry of Defence is expected to liaise with the Finnish Defense Forces to determine how domestic companies can maximize their individual technology advantage to win contracts linked to fighter life-cycle maintenance needs..

In particular, the MoD wants to assemble an indigenous pool of expertise within the specialized technology areas needed to maintain and service new fighter aircraft, in addition to their weapons and information systems.

Finland is planning to replace its fleet of 64 F/A-18 Hornets with a new NATO-compatible multirole fighter. The Ministry of Finance issued a request for quotations to five aircraft manufacturers at the end of April.

The MoD has laid down an industrial-participation obligation for tenderers under the HX-FP. This sets industrial participation at a minimum of 30 percent of the total contract value.

This level of industrial participation is viewed as ensuring significant involvement for native companies in the HX-FP. The strategy has two primary goals: These comprise satisfying the requirement for reliable security of supply, while reinforcing Finland’s defense technological and industrial foundations.

A provisional assessment by the MoD estimates that up to 300 Finnish firms could benefit from participation in an HX-FP-linked industrial cooperation loop with a future supplier.

The Ministry of Finance estimate is supported by the Association of Finnish Defence and Aerospace Industries, the central organization for Finland’s defense and security industry sector.

“On analysis, our estimate is that between 200 to 300 Finnish companies could participate in this industrial cooperation,” said Tuija Karanko, the AFDAI’s secretary general.

The five candidates under consideration as part of the HX-FP evaluation framework include France’s Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Saab-built Gripen E, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35.

The request for quotations represents the first phase of negotiations in the HX-FP. Preliminary, candidate-specific procurement packages are to be determined during this stage.

The next phase is due to commence in the second half of 2019. The final contents of the procurement packages will, during this stage, be negotiated and agreed upon with each tenderer.

The MoD intends to seek final quotations at the end of the second negotiating phase in 2020. The Finnish government plans to reach a decision on aircraft procurement in 2021.