Finland picks Lockheed Martin F-35A in a huge deal

Finland has agreed to buy 64 Lockheed Martin fighter jets to replace its aging fleet of combat planes in a 10 billion-euro deal that represents the Finnish military’s  largest ever purchase

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Finland has agreed to buy 64 Lockheed Martin fighter jets to replace its aging fleet of combat planes in a 10 billion-euro ($11.3 billion) deal that represents the Finnish military’s largest ever purchase, the government said Friday.

Finland picked the American company’s F-35A fighters from five contenders, which also included the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale from France, Britain’s Eurofighter Typhoon and the Saab Gripen from Sweden.

The Finnish air force has a fleet of more than 60 F-18 Hornets that were acquired from McDonnell Douglas in the early 1990s. It started looking for a successor aircraft in 2014.

The Defense Ministry said Friday that the price tag for the deal with Lockheed Martin includes training and other equipment.

European Union member Finland is a militarily non-aligned nation but closely cooperates with NATO in a way similar to neighboring Sweden.

Switzerland, another militarily non-aligned European country, and NATO members Denmark and Norway previously decided to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35.

Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) border with Russia, has increased its bilateral defense and military cooperation with both Sweden and the United States in the past few years.

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