Lauri Puranen, the director of the Finnish HX program, which aims to procure Finland’s next-generation fighter posted an update on his blog. It announces that the final bids for HX will be submitted at the end of April, reiterates key parts of the HX program, and discusses the involvement of the commercial consulting and auditing firm Deloitte in the HX program.
The final submission of bids of the program marks the close of the bidding process, with each of the (presumed) five contenders submitting a final package, with full cost and capability to be evaluated. No more changes to these packages will be allowed after this point. After that, the packages will be submitted to a final evaluation process. A final decision on which package is selected will be “hopefully” reached by the end of 2021. The date for the final bids is also on schedule, the end of April deadline was announced in January 2021.
Puranen also emphasized that the evaluation criteria will is already set, referencing a classified 200-page “evaluation manual” which contains the step-by-step process. He also went on to elaborate that the four most salient areas for evaluation are:
• Military Performance
• Security of Supply
• Industrial Cooperation
In these categories, each package would be graded on a scale. Other evaluation criteria would simply be marked on a pass/fail manner. Puranen also emphasized that a long-running, detailed wargame would be conducted using each HX program package to determine which package best suited Finland’s specific needs and fighting style.
Puranen also mentioned that Deloitte, a global corporate consulting, auditing, and advisory firm has been participating as an external auditor for the HX program “for several years”. The role of Deloitte is said to be to confirm that the decisions are fair, systematic, and tracable, so any issues may be proactively remedied before they can have significant effects on final procurement. Deloitte will continue to support the HX program as it receives the final bids and enters the final evaluation stage.
Outside of the blog post, buzz among Finnish defense spectators and professionals suggest that the F-35 is the favored aircraft in terms of pure military capability. But it faces possible shortfalls in the other graded aspects, notably industrial cooperation and security of supply. Finland also seems to be prioritizing a long-range strike capability, which gives an advantage to the American packages which boast integration with the AGM-158 JASSM. Currently, Finland fields the AGM-158A on it’s fleet of F/A-18C/Ds, but the selection of an American aircraft for HX could open the door for a future purchase of the longer-ranged AGM-158B and AGM-158B-2