Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft will become the first to take part in the 2020 HX Challenge – the Finnish Air Force’s series of Flight Evaluation Trials.

The trials are being run as a key part of the ongoing HX programme, the competition being run by the Finnish Defence Forces to replace the country’s existing F/A-18 fleet. For the next five days, Typhoon aircraft from the Royal Air Force will be put through their paces in a series of evaluations in the cold conditions of Tampere.

Eurofighter Typhoon jets will be tested under cold weather conditions to verify the performance claims made in the responses to the Request for Quotation documents submitted in last year, along with performance values previously verified in laboratory tests.

Mr Formoso said:

“Eurofighter is a robust, combat proven swing role fighter that can be deployed and operated worldwide in the most difficult and demanding of conditions, both in terms of environment and threat. We believe Eurofighter meets the operational requirement of the Finnish Air Force today and is optimised to defend Finland for many decades to come.
There are close to 500 Eurofighters in service with European nations that provide the backbone of their air combat capability including 24/7 Quick Reaction Alert both at home bases and whilst deployed at locations such as those used as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing role.”

Paul Hitchcock, Managing Director, BAE Systems Finland, said:

“Eurofighter has a proven pedigree of operating wherever and whenever it is needed, no matter what the conditions, and we are very much looking forward to demonstrating those capabilities as part of the HX Challenge. This proven operational capability is of course only one element of what Finland requires for its investment. HX must contribute to deepening Finland’s security, political and industrial ties and we believe the combined strength of Eurofighter, the only true European offer for the HX programme, delivers this.

The HX fighter acquisition programme presents Finland with a unique opportunity to take control of its own security, defence and industrial future. By choosing Eurofighter, the Finnish Air Force would not only be acquiring the most advanced multi-role aircraft on the market, and one proven in service across the globe, it would be choosing everything Finland needs to independently operate, maintain and control its own aircraft – here in Finland, however it wants.”

The trials programme will enable the Finnish Air Force to assess the performance of each aircraft, systems and sensors in the Finnish operating environment. The Eurofighter trials will be led by air crew from BAE Systems’ Flight Operations team, led by Chief Test Pilot, Steve Formoso and test pilot Luke Gili-Ross, say Eurofighter.

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I was reading up on these trails. The operating conditions will be a factor I was thinking it could disadvantage the F35 and the Rafael more as they have less experience operating in the conditions experienced in Finland. The F35 has reached IoC with the Norway but that was only in Nov 19. The Gripen and F18 will have the edge as they already operate in Scandinavia but not sure how the conditions in Scotland compare to Finland. Note the above is in reference to the operating conditions not the flight or combat performance.

Steve R

Fingers crossed that Typhoon wins it and the order keeps production lines open a little longer, since HMG seem to sadly have no interest in ordering more Tranche 3s for the RAF to replace the 50-60 older Tranche 1s.

Robert blay

Unfortunately, a further order of Typhoons would cost many billions of £’s. Money that we just don’t have when we need to fund further numbers of F35B’s, and Typhoon updates don’t come cheap.


Rafale has already done tests in the cold, in Scandinavia a few times. In fact it has cold engine start upgrade requested by India since it needs to be able to operate in the Hymalayas.
Regardless the choice will be between the Super Hornet F18 or the Gripen. F18 has the advantage of familiarity and existing logistics, and Saab has a sweet deal on the table that includes AWACS planes also. Very long shot for the other competitors imo.


PS i guess you also haven’t been to the Alps and Pyrenees mountains, much colder than Scotland 😉

Douglas Newell

Are the French Airbases in the Pyrenees or Alps? Its always cold at 40,000 feet.


Bases are spread throughout France, including airbase 749 at Grenoble in the Alps and airbase 119 at Pau in the Pyrennees
Yes its always cold up in the air, but Finland is interested in cold starts, which is not done at 40000 feet


Not sure the French consistently operate in cold weather. Whilst they may have done tests the F18 and Gripen will have the edge having in depth knowledge of how to operate the aircraft in these conditions for years.


F35 operational in Alaska….. Pretty harsh.


It would be interesting to see what version of Typhoon is being offered to Finland. I would fully expect Eurofighter to offer them at least the same spec as the Kuwati version, rather than the RAF’s Tranche 3A version.


Well an interesting trip for the Pilots no doubt, looking to the future I am sure the RAF, 617 Squadron and the FAA will look forward to working with the Finnish Airforce when it starts inducting the F-35 into service.

Alan Reid

I saw what you did there, Fedaykin ….. you cynic! LOL


Heh, a bit cynical yes but I would be highly surprised if anything else won this contest. Lockheed Martin have this in the bag, every contest that the F-35 has been entered into has been won by the F-35 (well unless you talk to the insufferable Rafale fanboys who will give a 101 reasons why their preferred steed technically won) and I don’t see it going any other way this time. The F-35 represents a capability quantum leap in capability over the legacy Hornet especially as an ISR platform and with the SU-57 getting closer to mass production I can’t… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi Fed, Based on recent Western European purchasing patterns, I think F-35A will win as well. I do wonder, though, if many of these air-forces really need some of the advanced capabilities of the F-35. Are the Belgian or Norwegian air-forces really going to join the USAF on the first night of operations against a hostile, integrated air-defence network? But what was really disappointing for Typhoon fans was the recent statement from Belgium that the F-35A was cheaper than Eurofighter’s bid. So for some air-forces, it’s no longer only a “status symbol” to buy the American jet (the F-104 and… Read more »


“But what was really disappointing for Typhoon fans was the recent statement from Belgium that the F-35A was cheaper than Eurofighter’s bid.“

While we tend to focus on the capabilities it is worth remembering that one other objective of the F-35 program was (relative) affordability. I suppose the above is more a reflection on Typhoon expense rather than F-35 affordability but we are still in LRIP (aren’t we?) and at least the per-aircraft prices are trending downwards particularly for the A variant.

Ian B

Let’s face it, the UK wins whether it’s the F35 or EF. The question is by how much? Secondly, if the F35A is going to be the same price or cheaper than a Typhoon, wouldn’t the RAF be better off having a further 60 F35A’s than replacing the T1 Typhoons? That would bring about the setting of replacing crashed, damaged beyond repair Typhoons with more F35A increasing the wing sizes of individual squadrons with an air frame that’s going to last decades past the life of the Typhoon, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Steve R

There are a few issues. If we replaced the older T1s with F35A it reduces the requirement for Tempest; either reduced numbers (which drives up the per-airframe cost) or a cancellation of Tempest altogether. It would also require another OCU, as then we are operating 3 airframe types; Typhoon, F35a and b. Given the penny pinching MoD and Treasury, any F35a orders to replace ageing Typhoons would be deducted from the order of F35b. If defence were given a significant budget boost and RAF and RN prioritised, with a view to expanding fast jet numbers then yes, F35A could be… Read more »

Paul T

Ian/Steve – both of your posts sum up the conundrum (nightmare) of Defense Procurement.Do you go with a substantial increase in Capability at a reasonable cost (F35a) or do you go for the current plan of Manufacturing Sustainability with Typhoon leading onto Tempest.Also regards Airframe types the F35 family Training is done purely on simulators – there are no Twin Seat versions now or in the near future.Id be interested to know how easy or difficult it is for a Pilot in say an F35b to transition to an ‘A’ or a ‘C’,ill stick my neck out and say it… Read more »


Unfortunately Typhoon was already outdated when entered into service. It’s a 4th gen fighter just like the Gripen, and F18, or Rafale, and miles behind the American (F-22 / F-35), Russian (Pak-FA), and possibly even Chinese 5th gen counterparts. (I have doubts about the Chinese one though). Not sure if Finland is also considering F-35, I guess they can afford it. Despite being an outdated bird I hope the winner will be European, no matter which one.


All aircraft are outdated when they go into production. As the design must be frozen at some point and you want to keep the configuration of your airframes the same throughout the fleet. So at the time of freezing the design, technology keeps moving on. It’s only through future planned modifications that aircraft can sort of keep up to date. It’s interesting that you think Typhoon is miles behind F22, F35, Su57 and possibly the Chinese 5th gen aircraft. Both F35 and F22 have shown outstanding success during Red Flag exercises in the States, but what also is interesting is… Read more »


The capability of a fighter jet is not reflected by Red Flag exercises. We all know it exactly. It’s a game where everyone shows what they want to show. And the success is well proved on the market. The typhoon is highly overpriced and far from being a proven aircraft, and entered into service when others just put 5th gen fighters in the air. It’s not all about the typhoon itself, it’s about the European fighters in general are behind the us ones. And we still have Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen (none of these are 5th gen), all for the same… Read more »


Well I would have thought Red Flag would likely e age rate the advantage of on paper superior aircraft especially those that rely on extensive technology beyond the actual aircraft and it’s even true of even stealth tech. As we know from experience in conflict those Dort of ideal scenarios start to break down either through the unexpected or general degrading of capabilities over time in any peer to peer conflict. With stealth we have no real idea how effective it will be even in ten years let alone beyond though all things being equal it’s clearly best to have… Read more »


It’s funny you say Typhoon is not combat proven since it has been in operations for years whereas F35 has seen even less. F35 is still riddled with many problems just check the US government’s own assessment of the program. I suggest you read the GAO and DOT&E reports. All this to say many valid questions remain as far as the F35’s actual combat effectiveness and readiness.
FYI 5th gen definition has 4 characteristics (sensor fusion, supercruise, supermaneuvrability and stealth) Typhoon checks 3 boxes while F35 checks only 2.

Harry Bulpit

The Typhoon is obviously the best option from a British perspective. But frankly for the fins the Gripen really is the best choice. Excluding the price, rugidnes and capabilitys, the fact the aircraft is made by it nabour is a huge advantage. At a time of war having your supplis come across a land border is hugely advantages to any other mode, in both quantity and security. Plus it means Sweden may allow Finland access to it war stock and reserve aircraft let alone volunteer pilots at a time of war.


You may prefer having Sweden, a traditionally neutral country that remained neutral even in WW2, as your ally in a conflict with Russia, Finland’s nearest and most dangerous adversary, but I doubt Finland would. And if you think Sweden is going to allow its war supplies to be used and its pilots involved in a war with Russia then you need to think again. Finland presently flies F-18s and I doubt that they would rather rely on Sweden than the US.

Harry Bulpit

The U.S is hundreds of miles away and as of recently hasn’t shown itself to be a stable allie. Especially when it involves conflicts that have little to do with America. Plus most American supplies would have to go through the baltic see which could easily be bloked. Also Sweden did send support and volunter during the winter war and its neutrality stance is getting less and less strong. Especially with the possibility of Russia being on their door step next.


In terms of relying on USA with an F-35 purchase where have we (Europe as a whole but more specifically the U.K.) ended up with that? I remember in the early days there was a huge standoff with the U.k. threatening to pull out of the program if we didn’t get access to the software source code. Who blinked on that one? Also, what is the situation with this fancy computerised logistics and maintenance system? I’s that still reliant on US servers/databases to keep the planes maintained or is there a facility for sovereign states to have their own autonomous… Read more »


Finland already made the decision to rely on American supplies getting through by committing to the F-18 years ago, so your argument doesn’t hold water. Supplies can be airlifted in and certainly the US Navy, if anyone, can clear the Baltic. If the US is involved then most probably NATO will. Sweden refuses to become a member of NATO. By any objective criteria the US is more desirable as a defense partner than Sweden. Although it doesn’t get much coverage in Western Media, Sweden is a country racked with internal dissent with a burgeoning Muslim population that refuses to assimilate… Read more »

Harry Bulpit

Air transport can only carry so much and would be extremely vonrable, in such a contested area. America may well be able to clear the bultics. But my point is they may well not want to, leaving civilian ships to go through alone. Finland selected America at a time when it was very much open to working with the wider world. Now America seems only to care about itself, and all decisions made are dependent on a guy who seems more concerned about his twitter feed then anything else. Also your point about Swedish Muslims is just down right irrelevant.


My apologies for being off topic but as you mentioned his focus solely on his twitter feed rather than anything else. I thought I should just mention a few easily verifiable facts… (Check Bloomberg – definitely not a Trump propagandist channel). His home economic policies and tax changes have resulted in – Highest US stock market levels in history. Which results in highest pension growth for workers. Highest level of employment for African Americans in US history Highest Levels of Latino workers’ employment in decades. Facing down China over technology theft and forcing them to sign a new Trade deal… Read more »

Harry Bulpit

Yeah i don’t care about what he’s done for America. I care about what he’s done for the international stage, as you know the leader of the wolds most powerful and influential nation. Honestly it ain’t looking good.

Alan Reid

Hi Harry, If you’re sharing a border with Putin’s Russia, and have been at war with the Soviet Union in recent history, is the little Gripen really the best choice for the Finns? Are you sure it’s even significantly better than the F-18C they already have in their inventory? An RAF Typhoon pilot was not recently impressed by the Swedish fighter and described it to me as “cannon-fodder”! And clearly buying multi-billion dollar fighter jets has as much to do with geo-politics, as aircraft design and performance. What can Sweden offer the Finns in that respect? The Gripen does have… Read more »

Harry Bulpit

The reality is the Gripen is much cheaper then the typhoon, so more can be brought. Due to the close proximity between Finland and Russia if a war was to brake out, any aerial warfighting would be short, close and bloody. Therefore having as many airframes that can operate from as rough a strip as possible is what is needed. I don’t doubt that in a modern long rage high attitude air to air scenario that a typhoon is severely better then a Gripen. But Finland won’t be fighting those battles.

Nigel Collins

Correct Harry, and at roughly half the price of the current Typhoon offering 20 hardpoints for a Meteor fit instead of 14, it carries quite a punch. The F35 will not have internal fitting of Meteor until at least 2024/5. As for cannon fodder? “Several years ago the Gripen pilots got tired of being made fun of by German Typhoon pilots and came to play with their wartime electronic warfare and gave them a hell of a hard time,” Bronk said. One of the Gripens was “reportedly able to appear on the left-wing of a Typhoon without being detected” by… Read more »


FYI Not all, hardpoints are designed to hold Meteor 😉 and they aren’t cheap missiles
i doubt you would ever see a Gripen, Typhoon or Rafale with more than 4 Meteor, the more likely loadout would be 2 Meteor and some infrared guided missiles (Sidewinder, Iris-T etc…)


The latest Gripen has had many upgrades since the first model and is actually quite good. And the latest version has AESA and EW underwing pod. Obviously with the extra electronics added since the earlier models the flyaway and maintenace costs will increase accordingly, but i would expect it still slightly cheaper than the competition. Plus, there are rumbings of SAAB throwing in a couple of AWACS to sweeten the deal. Additionally, the F35 is ridiculously expensive. Sure LM fudge the numbers by reducing flyaway costs, but maintenance is still exhorbitant ranging from $30k to $40k per flight hour while… Read more »

Paul T

LT- Historically the Finns have purchased their Defense Equipment from both East and West,obviously now the trend is veering more Westwards but they are skilled in the art of keeping both sides happy.I can see your point in regards not choosing the F35 as it could antagonise Russia,but seeing as Norway has already gone down this road and is also a NATO member (accepted Finlands border with Russia is more expansive) I don’t think it would effect their choice so much today.


Not so complementary comments on the Typhoon reported by Finnish military aircraft journalist Pentti Perttula, editor of Siiivet (Wings) Aviation Magazine on ‘mtv uutiset’ after the Typhoon HX Challenge. “Eurofighter doesn’t yet meet one requirement” “…Doubts about lifetime of the jet. The maintenance costs of Eurofigher are high but efforts are constantly being made to reduce them. According to Perttula, the other downside is the airplane’s hull. It is currently certified for only 6,000 hours. Finland is looking for a machine with a figure of 8,000 hours to have a life of 30 years and that is not enough, Perttula… Read more »

Mr Bell

Just a question. Does Eurofighter pay HMG for these demonstrations? Must be expensive to deploy jets, aircraft, ground crew and consumables. Several million £. I would think.

Paul T

Interesting question – the Typhoons are provided by the RAF,as you say all the support will be provided too,is it treated as an operational Deployment masquerading as a sales pitch ? .Id guess BAE are taking the lead in this excercise hoping for a potential sale so maybe all costs are split between them and the MOD.