The revamping of Finland's fleet of Hornet fighter jets is likely to represent the country's second most expensive military deal. In spite of this, the transaction has been shrouded in secrecy, reports the daily Helsingin Sanomat. The planes had previously been used as interceptor jets, but now the intention is to convert them into assault craft capable of executing bombing raids. The first phase of the upgrade MLU 1 will cost 325 million euros. The second phase MLU 2, which is just underway, calls for missile procurement to the tune of 1.3 billion euros. There is no clear information on what the final bill will be, but the current price tag of more than 1.6 billion euros makes the project Finland's second most expensive arms deal. No Political Discussions
The Finnish Air Force is justifying the project on the basis of outfitting of the craft with missile delivery capability, as well as potential compliance with NATO. Because the project involves the retro-fitting of old aircraft, it has only been reviewed by public servants. There has been no discussion at the political level.
"I do know of the MLU process, but I had no idea that it was so expensive," said Juha Korkeaoja, Chair of Parliament's Defence Committee to Helsingin Sanomat.
Finland currently has 64 Hornet jets, and the upgrades are expected to be completed in 2015. In spite of the improvements, the aircraft are to be decommissioned between 2020 and 2025.