Two Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets and an EA-18G Growler landed at Pirkkala Air Base near Tampere, Finland on 18 February. The multirole fighters to begin flight trials as part of the country’s HX Challenge. The flight trials are a formal part of the procurement process and will demonstrate the capabilities of Boeing’s offering in the Finnish operating environment. The strong Boeing-Finland partnership started nearly 30 years ago when the first F/A-18s entered service with the Finnish Air Force. Boeing current offering – a mix of Super Hornet Block IIIs and Growlers – is the right choice for the Finnish Air Force and Finnish industry and will support a mutually beneficial partnership for decades to come.
In response to the HX Competition, Boeing is offering a combination of its F/A-18 Block III Super Hornets and EA-18G Growler platforms. The Block III configuration adds capability upgrades and includes a technology insertion plan that will keep it ahead of the future threat for the U.S. Navy and other air forces for decades to come. The aircraft is designed to accomplish its mission in the harshest of environments, and is capable of short takeoffs and landings making it a great fit for Finland’s remote operation requirements. It has low, documented lifecycle costs and is able to leverage up to 60% of existing infrastructure and support equipment currently in place for the F/A-18 Hornets.
The EA-18G Growler is based on the Super Hornet platform and shares over 90% of common components and systems. No aircraft goes into a sophisticated dense threat environment without Growler providing electronic attack protection. Boeing is also offering a robust sustainment and training program built on the existing capabilities and more than 20 years of services support for Finland’s F/A-18 Hornet to easily transition existing pilots and maintainers to the Super Hornet and Growler. The sustainment program can support isolated and roadside operations, and puts repairs in-country when possible.
Evaluation of the Super Hornet and Growler will conclude Feb. 26. In February 2019, the Department of Defense approved an offer for Boeing and the Navy to provide the EA-18G Growler fighter plane to Finland, in response to a 2018 request for bids to replace its F/A-18 C/D Hornet fleet. Finland is also considering Dassault’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin’s F-35A and Saab’s Gripen E as its future fighter aircraft as part of the HX program.