The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which operates under the United States Department of Defense, has submitted a statutory notification to Congress on the possible sale of multi-role fighters and the related weapons and equipment to Finland. The notification is related to the competitive tendering for the HX Fighter Programme which provides the replacement, with up to 64 new aircraft, of the legacy F-18 Hornet fleet which is expected to be phased out of service by 2030.

Finland sent its request to the US administration in April 2020. Based on the request, the DSCA is seeking approval from Congress to sell to Finland, at a later date, the products and services to be indicated in the final tender. The notification procedure is necessary in order to authorise the possible sale of either Lockheed Martin’s F-35 or Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters and the related weapons and services to Finland.

For a total value of $ 14.7 billion, the Super Hornet deal includes 50 model “E” single-seaters, plus eight of the two-seater model “F” variant, along with 14 EA-18G Growler electronic warplanes and 166 F414-GE-400 engines. The sale of the F-35 would include 64 conventional take-off and landing “A” variant with 66 Pratt & Whitney F135 engines, for a value of $ 12.5 billion.

Both purchases also include many armaments including 500 Small Diameter Bomb II, 150 Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles, 200 JASSM-ER Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range, Joint Standoff Weapons, Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, countermeasures, training and logistical support. Additionally, Growlers would also have all electronic warfare suite.

The announcement of the notification procedure does not constitute a procurement decision by Finland, as the decision to procure multi-role fighters will be made by the Government in 2021. Furthermore, the types and quantities of multi-role fighters and weapons specified in the notification do not represent the final content of the Finnish procurement package; instead, the list published by the DSCA indicates those items and quantities that the US administration is prepared to sell at this stage of the procurement process.

In the FMS procedure, the quantities and prices proposed for approval are generally set higher than what the purchasing country has indicated in its own request. The purpose of this formality is to avoid the need to submit a new and time-consuming Congressional Notification in the event that the purchasing country makes changes to the procurement package.

Administrations in other candidate countries have also dealt with or will deal with the sale of multi-role fighters to Finland in accordance with legislation and system in place in the country in question.

FMS procedure

The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) procedure is based on US export control legislation. According to the legislation, defence equipment is sold by the Federal Government of the United States, i.e. the industry first sells a product to the United States Defense Administration, which, in turn, sells it to the purchasing country, collecting compensation in the process to cover the costs of the procedure.  The FMS procedure may involve several purchasing countries at the same time, in which case the costs of the procedure are shared among the countries in question.

The Congressional Notification procedure, which seeks approval from Congress for the sale, is part of the FMS process.  As part of this procedure, a public announcement of the FMS procedure is made on the website of the DSCA stating that Congress has been notified of the planned sale of a specified maximum amount of defence equipment, at a specified price, to a purchasing country. However, the notification does not mean that a decision has been made in the country in question to purchase items from the United States.

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