Finnish Air Force decommissioning 41 Hawk trainer jets
Most of Finland’s fleet of British-built Hawk trainer jets are to be decommissioned over the next four years. The Finnish Air Force is getting rid of 41 of the 67 two-seat Hawks in its arsenal.
Ten of the planes have already been grounded, due to metal fatigue in the bodies and wings of the aircraft.
“Worn out is worn out”, says Air Force Commander, Major General Jarmo Lindberg.
In 2001 the government’s report on security and defence policy stated that it is possible for the Defence Forces to give up the operative use of the Hawks.
More recently, the Hawks have been consigned purely to use as training planes, for which purpose a smaller fleet is feasible.
The Air Force will hold on to 26 of the aircraft, which are to have digital machinery and navigation systems installed.
Most of the Hawks that are to be kept were bought slightly used from Switzerland two years ago. The refurbished aircraft are expected to remain operational for at least 20 more years.
The Air Force is ready to sell the jets that it is decommissioning, but finding a buyer might not be easy. The defence contractor Patria has offered to fix 16 of the ageing planes for the Polish Air force. Poland is expected to make a decision on the matter at about the end of the year.
“Let’s see if there is a possibility to make use of the equipment that is being phased out. If there is not, then there isn’t. We and the Air Force have a very pragmatic attitude about this”, says Jukka Holkeri, director of marketing at Patria.
In the next 5-7 years the Air Force will also have to replace its fleet of Vinka propeller planes, which are the training aircraft it has used for beginning pilots.
The Air Force has outsourced the Vinka pilot training to Patria, which takes place at the Luonetjärvi base north of Jyväskylä.
The Air Force has discussed replacing the Vinka fleet, possibly in cooperation with the Swedish Air Force, whose jet trainer, the Saab 105, will become obsolete at about the same time as the Vinka.
However, training procedures of the Finnish and Swedish air forces differ considerably. In Finland, beginner pilots start out with propeller planes before moving on to jet trainers and fighters. Sweden uses jets at all stages.
The fleet of 50 Hawk trainers dates back to the late 1970s, and was a very controversial purchase at the time.
Air Force Hawk jet fighter-trainer crashes, pilot ejects to safety (29.9.2006)
Finnish Air Force