If new Finnish plans to increase their defense spending are ratified it seems there will be no more concerns over the funding of Finland’s HX Fighter Program. The newest declaration by the Finnish parliament, suggests that the country’s defense budget rise significantly by $2 billion, expanding it to almost $6 billion.
The ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic hit the Finnish economy hard, forcing the state to raise its debt burden with loans and credits. The Finns will push forward with their plans to exchange their aging fleet of F/A-18C/D Hornets for new aircraft. Dassault Rafale, Lockheed-Martin F-35, Saab Grippen, and Eurofighter Typhoon are potential successors to the current fighters used. The key issue is the concept of using roads as makeshift airfields which is a key part of Finnish defensive war doctrine.
The very nature of Finland’s geography makes it defensible, with vast marshes and lakes, creating a ready strategy to contain potential enemies, especially from the east. The idea of total defense, including all capabilities of the society, industry, and armed forces, means that army components must cooperate with each other. Army and civil defense, navy, and air force are a single organism – the Finnish Defence Forces.
A vast array of modern military equipment has been already delivered including Leopard 2A6 tanks. The Finnish Army has been reinforced with Spike ATGMs, NLAW, and Carl Gustav rocket launchers. Air defense has been improved with NASMS, Stingers, and Cortales short-range anti-air missile. The HX Fighter Program will be another vital step in improving Finland’s defense capabilities.
The modernization is not only coming to the Finnish Air Force. The Finns are actively seeking new solutions from their own the military industrial complext. These include the development of the new Patria IFV in cooperation with Latvia. Additionally, in December 2019, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland signed a further agreement to jointly purchase an AFV, with deliveries to be concluded in the mid-2020s.
The total defense strategy followed by total modernization seems to be the only move for the small Finnish nation. However, the budget issues may complicate the plans for the extension of the Finnish Armed Forces. The sharp increase in the budget will allow the fulfilment of the planned improvements in the near term. Any additional expenditures at the expense of other investment, however, are unlikely to be welcomed by the Finnish public. Finland’s military budget may be the victim of cuts in the future, a policy which may cripple its attempts to enhance its defense.