The Defense Forces buy a high-level air defense system but do not intend to fight ballistic missiles. The air defense project has been taken forward with a remarkably low profile, writes HS journalist Jarmo Huhtanen.
Defense Forces logistics department published at the end of October a bulletin: the title read that it had sent “invitations to tender for the development of high-level air defense”.
However, behind the paper-flavored title lies probably the most expensive missile acquisition in Finnish history.
However, it is still necessary to write “probably” because the purchase price tag is still a secret. It’s probably even a billion-dollar purchase.
Sweden, for example, is just introducing the new high-reach American Patriot system. Its the price is more than € 1 billion reported in the first phase.
It has been suspected in the Swedish media that the amount does not even include very many anti-aircraft missiles.
Originally Ten arms manufacturers showed interest in selling their missile systems to Finland. The lack of information on missile procurement says that the names of these companies have not been made public.
However, at the end of October, the five to which the final invitations to tender had been sent were named.
Invitations to tender were issued to two Israeli (Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Systems), German (Diehl Defense), Norwegian (Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace) and British (MBDA) arms manufacturers.
Interestingly, the American Raytheon, which manufactures the Patriot system purchased by Sweden, is missing from the crowd. The reason may be that it is considered very expensive.
Indeed, Sweden is suspected of ending up in the Patriot mainly for political reasons, as there has been a desire to tie the defense even more tightly to the United States.
In Finland The Defense Forces has taken its new anti-aircraft missile project forward with a remarkably low profile when compared to other billion-dollar projects underway, namely the selection of a successor to the Hornet or the purchase of new warships.
The reason for the low profile may be the desire to avoid public perceptions of ongoing billion-dollar armaments projects.
Another reason may be the desire to prevent a public debate on the fight against ballistic missiles, which began three years ago with Russian Iskander missiles. At that time, the Finnish Defense Forces had to publish an exceptional one on its website bulletin the issue of missile defense.
The Defense Forces assessed it doesn’t make sense for a small country to try to fight ballistic missiles.
Air defense Inspector, Colonel Mikko Mäntynen confirmed to HS last week by e – mail that the situation has not changed in three years.
“We don’t aim to combat ballistic missiles,” he says.
The Defense Forces have concluded that the control of ballistic missiles is too expensive and can only be carried out in a very limited area.
In addition, its implementation would require extensive international cooperation. In practice, only the United States would have the satellites and other technology required to detect ballistic missiles in time.
All however, do not agree.
Retired colonel and former air defense inspector Ahti Lapland does not understand the decision not to pursue ballistic missile defense capabilities. In his view, Sweden and Switzerland, for example, are working on a different solution.
“I don’t understand why we need high-level combat capabilities, because ballistic missiles are the most likely threat and cannot be repelled by any other constable,” says Lapland.
According to Lapland, not all ballistic missiles might be able to be fought, but some could.
“Otherwise, we just have to accept that the enemy can use a weapon that we have no chance to fight. I think it’s a pretty nasty situation. ”
In several Lapland, which has been active in missile procurement, is also a prominent critic of Hornet’s successor selection, the HX project.
In his view, the focus should be on air defense and not fighter control.
“If someone claims that they can defend the whole of Finland with 64 multi-purpose fighters, then they are talking about some potash, that is quite clear. Such a story should not be disseminated to the public. It has no basis in reality. ”
According to Lapland, it seems as if Finland had not noticed the change in doctrine that took place with the first Gulf War, in which the importance of long-range precision weapons is growing.
“After all, we have already stated for the first time in the defense report almost 20 years ago that the most likely threat is long-range precision weapons. It was at that time that Russia received Iskander missiles. ”
Finland In this way, Switzerland is currently acquiring a new fighter jet and a high-level missile system through the largest arms trade in its history.
However, Switzerland has pooled just under € 7 billion in the same Air 2030 procurement program both fighter and missile shops. Ahti Lappi considers it a better solution than the separate road chosen by Finland.
“I think we should have talked about air and missile defense more broadly and not just some fighter acquisition.”
Unlike Finland, Switzerland has also published its requirements for a high-level control system.
Switzerland wants a system that reaches at least 50 kilometers horizontally and at least 12 kilometers in height. The system must also be able to protect an area of 15,000 square kilometers.
In Finland, the corresponding information is secret. According to Mäntynen, an air defense inspector, even the definition of high defense is secret in Finland.
Historically In Finland, however, high-level control is intended for air defense that extends over seven kilometers. The Defense Forces are also known to pursue the scope of existing systems doubling.
The Crotale missile system in use in Finland reaches six kilometers. The dimension of the second, the Nasams system, has not been made public, but estimates are moving at the same readings or slightly over.
From the above, it can be concluded that the Defense Forces, like Switzerland, aim for an altitude of at least 12 kilometers.
“13 kilometers is the maximum altitude a regular machine can use. From going up, there will be technical problems with ordinary aircraft, ”says Lapland.
Colonel Mäntynen estimates that the Finnish Defense Forces will receive answers to requests for tenders by next summer.
The tender is confused by the fact that some manufacturers offer several possible options.
According to Mäntynen, “we have set out our performance requirements in the call for tenders. The manufacturer decides what kind of package his catalog offers us ”.