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U.S., Boeing send 3 Super Hornets to Finland for aircraft upgrade

Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Three Super Hornet aircraft arrived in Helsinki Tuesday as Boeing launched the flight evaluation phase for Finland's HX fighter replacement program.

A single-seat F/A-18E, a twin-seat F/A-18F and an EA-18G arrived at Tampere-Pirkkala Airbase for Boeing's HX Challenge evaluation, following stints from the Eurofighter Typhoon earlier this year.

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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.

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Finland is also considering Dassault's Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin's F-35A and Saab's Gripen E as it's future fighter aircraft as part of the HX program.

According to the Finnish Defense Ministry, Finland's fighter fleet currently consists of Hornets that were commissioned between 1995 and are expected to complete their service life in 2030.

"Extending the service life of the Hornet fleet would be neither a cost-effective solution nor sufficient in terms of Finland's defense," said the Defense Ministry's statement on the program upgrade. "The Hornets' service life cannot be extended as it is limited by the aircraft's weakening comparative capabilities and structural fatigue."

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The Finnish government estimates the program will take 10 to 15 years to complete.

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