Defence Forces look to tactical missiles
The Finnish Defence Forces are looking into the possible acquisition of ground-to-ground tactical missiles.
The missiles are part of a project to investigate the possibility of buying new ordnance for Finland’s rocket launchers and its 155 mm. artillery.
The missiles would be launched from heavy rocket launchers.
The Finnish Defence Staff says that decisions on the matter are to be made “in the coming years”.
The Defence Forces have already started the process of upgrading its heavy rocket launcher and firepower control systems.
The project, costing EUR 40 million, will be ready in 2014. After the changes, heavy rocket launchers can be used as launching pads for the missiles.
The upgrading of the rocket launchers will primarily apply to their computer programmes. “It will bring with it the ability to use modern ammunition. The control of firepower today largely involves software”, says Lieutenant-Colonel Pekka Purtonen of the Finnish Army Staff.
The topic of missiles is somewhat awkward for the Finnish military. The missiles in question would have a range of between 200 and 300 kilometres, and could reach as far as St. Petersburg.
The Defence Forces say that the extended range means that they would not have to be placed in the proximity of actual forces, and would therefore not be as vulnerable to enemy firepower.
However, the acquisition of the missiles is not a done deal. The Finnish military is expected to cut costs in the coming years, and Chief of Defence Ari Puheloinen has warned that military personnel might have to be reduced.
A firepower study was conducted in 2004 to seek out the most effective combination of weapons from a point of view of overall defence.
The best systems were found to be heavy rocket launchers, special artillery shells and air-to-ground missiles for the Air Force.
The proposals of the firepower study were not left at the level of mere recommendations. The first of the missiles installed on the F-18 Hornet jet fighters are already in the testing stage.
The missiles acquired for the Hornets have a range of several dozen kilometres. The Air Force would have wanted missiles with a much longer range, but the Untied States refused to sell them.
Finland bought used heavy rocket launchers in 2007. The aim of the acquisition was to offset the effects of the ban on personnel land mines by replacing them with cluster shells.
However, international opinion turned against cluster weapons as well, and Finland has since renounced their use. Consequently, Finland ended up with a costly weapons system without the intended ammunition.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Cluster weapon ban treaty could end development and trade in weapons sought by Finland (4.12.2008)
US refuses to sell air-to-ground missiles for Finland’s Hornet jets (5.2.2007)
Finland spending EUR 500 million on new air defence system (30.4.2009)
Sufficient deterrence? (20.1.2009)