NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Camille Grand says that Finland’s plans to buy new fighter aircraft is good for the security of Europe.
According to Grand, who is on a two day visit to Helsinki, any of the aircraft from five different manufacturers that Finland is considering, would be be able to cooperate with NATO forces – and are in any case already represented among NATO member country air forces.
Finland is set to spend up to €10 billion on new multi-role fighter aircraft to replace the ageing American-made F/A-18 Hornets.
The contenders to provide new aircraft to the Finnish air force include three options from the EU: UK-made Eurofighter Typhoon; Dassault Rafale from France; and the Gripen E from Saab in Sweden. Two options from the USA are also being considered: Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornets; and the Lockheed Martin F-35.
Grand heads up a NATO department that promotes multinational cooperation, but says NATO doesn’t have a particular view on which of the five fighter choices Finland should opt for.
“We do not give such guidance to member states, let alone our partners. Procurement processes are always national defence decisions” says Grand.
The Frenchman, who took up his role in autumn 2016, praised the deep relationship that both Finland and Sweden have with NATO, describing it as a ‘gold standard’ for partnerships, although he added there were some areas which could still be developed more.
“I always say that you [in Finland and Sweden] already have a platinum partnership card” Grand says.