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Finland to buy U.S. air defense system

March 1, 2012 at 5:37 PM

HELSINKI, Finland, March 1 (UPI) -- Finland will buy armament upgrades for its air force fleet of F-18 Hornet fighters from U.S. company Lockheed Martin, Finnish defense officials said.

Finland plans to buy Lockheed's AGM-158 joint air-to-surface standoff missiles in a contract worth nearly $240 million.

The contract includes necessary upgrades to the F-18 Hornet fighters to handle the new munitions as well as training and technical documentation, a release from the Finnish defense ministry said.

The U.S. Congress and Department of Defense approved the contract in November and payments for the new armaments will be extended until 2018.

The U.S. Department of Defense has also announced its willingness to sell Finland 600 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles as well as the JASSM missiles.

Finland's military forces, like many other around the world, are looking at cutbacks but Finnish Ministry of Defense Chief of Staff Arto Raty told Helsingin Sanomat, "We are working to maintain the most powerful threshold weapons systems of the navy and air force with which we will establish a capacity to prevent attacks, strengthen the credibility of defense and maintain a capability for deterrence."

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