Finland is set to modernize its defense forces with new US stealth fighters, according to local newspaper Iltalehti, citing several sources.
The Finnish Defence Forces, consisting of the Finnish Army, the Finnish Navy, and the Finnish Air Force, proposed to the Ministry of Defense that Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II should be acquired to replace its aging fleet of McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet.
According to sources, the Ministry of Defense will draw up a proposal to procure the stealth fighter in an $11.3 billion deal.
Finland is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but the move to procure the stealth jets suggests the Nordic country is aligning itself with the US and Europe. The country has an 800-mile border with Russia to defend. It views stealth fighters as the best deterrent against future Moscow aggression.
For the last five years, Finland has been searching for a new fighter jet and missile defense system to modernize its forces. The 64 F/A-18 Hornet will be retired in several rounds from 2025-2030.
The US has been busy selling stealth jets to countries that are strategically placed around Russia and China. Besides the US, 12 countries have ordered or currently using the advanced jets. Those include the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Belgium, Poland, and Singapore. These jets are reshaping the strategic balance in Europe and Indo-Pacific to the disadvantage of Russia and China.