Finland Denies Boeing Fighter Deal After Trump's Gaffe

Finland Denies Fighter Deal with Boeing After Trump's Comments

(Source: compiled by; posted Aug 30, 2017)

PARIS --- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has denied that Finland had concluded a deal to buy new fighter aircraft from Boeing, correcting remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump during a joint Aug. 29 press conference in Washington.

“One of the things that is happening is you’re purchasing large amounts of our great F-18 aircraft from Boeing and it’s one of the great planes, the great fighter jets,” Trump said on Monday at a news conference with his Finnish counterpart in the White House, according to a Reuters report.

Niinisto, who was standing next to Trump, looked surprised but did not follow up on the comment. He later denied the deal with Boeing on his Twitter account and on Tuesday in Washington, Reuters said.

Finland has launched the HX competition to select a new fighter to replace its current fleet of Boeing F-18C fighters, promising a level playing field and a transparent selection process.

Trump’s comments consequently caused considerable surprise in Finland, and caused Niinisto to issue a denial (in Finnish) respond by Twitter. He later tolf Finnish journalists in Washington that “It seems that on the sale side, past decisions and hopes about future decisions have mixed ... The purchase is just starting, and that is very clear here.”

“President Trump’s remarks are baffling. There are still years to run in the fighter replacement competition before a final decision is reached. If the leadership of the United States harbors the idea that the matter is a done deal, then this is not good,” said Matti Vanhanen, chairman of the Finnish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Defense News.

The original timeline of Finland’s HX competition to select a new multirole fighter.

Finland is expected to issue a Request for Quotes to European and U.S. bidders in February 2018, with quotes due by February 2019. Final selection and contract signature are expected to follow in early 2021.

The candidates for Finland’s multi-role fighter procurement are the Boeing Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin JSF F-35 and the Saab JAS Gripen, the first report by the HX working group reported in June 2015.

“We have received answers to requests for information from five fighter manufacturers, but we have not even sent out invitations to tender yet,” said Lauri Puranen, the FRP-HX program director at the Finnish Ministry of Defence.


Trump F-18 Gaffe Should Have Been Instantly Corrected, Says Presidential Candidate Vanhanen

(Source: YLE Finnish Broadcasting Corp.; posted Aug. 29, 2017)

President Sauli Niinistö should have immediately corrected inaccurate statements by US President Donald Trump about Finland’s proposed fighter jet acquisition, says former Prime Minister and Centre Party presidential election candidate Matti Vanhanen. During a joint press conference on Monday, Trump erroneously declared that Finland intended to buy "a large number" of F18 fighter jets from Boeing.

Finnish media and politicians were bemused when US President Donald Trump announced during a joint press conference with President Sauli Niinistö Monday that Finland planned to buy "a large number" of F18 fighter jets from the US multinational Boeing.

It’s well known that the US President is trade-focused and enjoys using the glare of the spotlight to tout important trade deals with the country's international partners. However President Niinistö later took to Twitter, the US President's preferred communication platform, to refute Trump’s claim.

Finland’s Centre Party ex-Prime Minister and chair of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Matti Vanhanen, described President Trump’s comments about the fighter jet deal as "baffling".

Immediate correction better

Speaking to Yle’s Ykkösaamu radio programme, Vanhanen said that he believed that the fighter jet purchase may have come up in bilateral talk, even though nothing has been finalised. However, he said that it would have been good for Niinistö to immediately correct the misunderstanding.

"I don’t think it was just a slip. Of course, you should take up clear mistakes in a press conference. This kind of subject takes on a life of its own, because there are still years of competition left and a decision about the [final] choice. If the United States leadership has the idea that the matter is a done deal, then that’s a bad thing," Vanhanen remarked.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Defence emphasised that Finland has not made a decision on successors to Finland’s fighter jet fleet.

Defence Ministry: No decision yet about fighter jets

Defence Ministry programme director Lauri Puranen, who is responsible for strategic procurement, also pointed out that finalising the acquisition is a process that will take years.

"We have received answers to requests for information from five fighter manufacturers, but we have not even sent out invitations to tender yet," Puranen noted.

The Ministry has so far received responses to requests for information about Boeing’s F/A18 Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, Eurofighter’s Typhoon, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Saab’s Gripen multirole fighter jet.

The ministry said it will send out invitations to tender in early 2018. The new government taking up office in 2019 will make a decision about purchasing multifunction fighters to replace the current stock of Hornet jets at the end of 2021.


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