The Armed Forces’ senior leadership has been accused of favouring US firm Lockheed Martin’s F-35 in the ongoing competition for Finland’s fighter jet fleet upgrade.
Former Armed Forces commander Jarmo Lindberg allegedly instructed his subordinates to ensure that the choice in the competition falls on the F-35, the Finnish newspaper Suomen Kuvalehti reported, citing anonymous sources with insight in the process.
According to Suomen Kuvalehti, both Lindberg and other top military officials have tried to ignore and downplay the weaker sides of the F-35 in various reports and other contexts, while emphasising the weaknesses of the other four candidates.
Jarmo Lindberg left his command post in the summer of 2019, but in April 2020 it emerged that he had signed a consulting agreement with Lockheed Martin. Just days later, Lockheed Martin terminated the contract over lobbying.
The F-35 is marketed as a fifth-generation fighter jet with stealth features and advanced sensor technology. The plan’s operating costs are generally considered to be higher compared to the other competitors, and the question is whether Finland’s acquisition would be viable in the long run.
According to Suomen Kuvalehti’s sources, the F-35 is significantly more expensive to operate than the other competitors, as the user country commits itself to paying a fixed annual fee covering service and spare parts. The agreement is similar to a lease, and ultimately becomes disproportionately expensive.