Saab Shares Plunge as Finland Reported to Pick F-35 in Fighter Fleet Upgrade
In picking the F-35, Finland will follow its Nordic peers Denmark and Norway, which settled for 27 and 52 jets respectively in deals dubbed the biggest in their military history.
Finland is set to pick Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jets as part of a EUR 10 billion ($11.3 billion) tender to replace its ageing fleet of F/A-18 Hornets, the newspaper Iltalehti has reported, citing a number of unidentified defence and security sources.
The F-35s were preferred due to their capability and expected long lifespan. The proposal by the Armed Forces has allegedly been backed by the Defence Ministry alongside high-ranking foreign policy makers.
The jets will replace 64 Boeing Co. F/A-18 Hornets that will be retired between 2025 and 2030, with the new aircraft set to be in service until the 2060s. Other alternatives include Saab's Jas 39 Gripen, earlier tipped as one of the leading candidates, alongside European Eurofighter Typhoon, French Dassault Rafale, and US Boeing F-18 Super Hornet.
Selecting the Lockheed Martin jets would bring the non-aligned Nordic country closer to the US through military-industrial cooperation. While not a member of NATO, Finland frequently trains with the alliance and uses NATO-compatible gear.
Finland has spent the past five years selecting a new fighter jet with air-to-surface and air-to-sea capabilities. The final decision is due later this month.
22 November 2021, 05:03 GMT
As the news broke, shares of Saab AB, seen as the main rival for the order, fell 7.3 percent. Earlier this year, Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist emphasised the "historic opportunity" to sell Jas Gripens to Finland in order to raise the level of rapport and in-depth cooperation between the two militaries. Saab itself stressed the importance of the deal as the largest ever for the company, bolstering its international outlook.
Sweden's neighbours Denmark and Norway earlier settled for 27 and 52 F-35s respectively in deals dubbed the biggest in their military history.