Two Eurofighter Typhoon jets have touched down at Pirkkala Air Force Base to start two weeks of intensive testing and evaluation.
They’re the first of five aircraft types which will arrive in Finland in the coming weeks, as the Air Force weighs up the pros and cons of each in the process to determine which company will win the €10 billion contract to replace the country’s ageing fleet of Hornet jets.
The Eurofighters are from Britain’s Royal Air Force 41 Squadron, the RAF’s fast jet test unit equipped with Typhoon aircraft and based in Lincolnshire.
The aircraft will take part in simulated long-term war games, where the candidate jets will play their roles as part of Finland’s defence systems. In the simulated battles they’ll face the Air Force’s current F/A-18 Hornets and Hawk jet trainers.
The Air Force says the event is taking place in Finland so that each plane can be tested under Finnish winter operating conditions – and also to provide a balanced evaluation for each of the five candidate aircraft.
The other contenders taking part in ‘Operation HX Challenge’ are America’s Lockheed Martin F-35 and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet; France’s Dassault Rafale; and Sweden’s Saab Gripen
Although all the aircraft are designed to operate in sub-zero temperatures, the challenges come when the temperatures hover around freezing with snow, sleet or freezing drizzle throwing extra challenges at the jets. Harsh weather conditions can have an impact on the performance of electro-optical sensors in particular.
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