WATCH: Last of the ‘Top Gun’ test jets arrive in Finland

The Boeing aircraft are the last to land in Finland and be put through their paces, with a €10 billion contract at stake.

Boeing F/A-18E jet lands at Pirkkala Air Base, 18th February 2020 / Credit: @corporalfrisk Twitter

The last of the international contenders to replace Finland’s ageing fleet of Hornet jets arrived at Pirkkala Air Base on Tuesday afternoon.

Boeing sent an F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet, and one Growler variant of the aircraft to take part in intensive testing and evaluations over the next several days.

The planes flew to Finland via Iceland with tanker support, and US Navy Growler pilot Jessica King documented the refueling mission on her Instagram page.

Watch as the Boeing jets land at Pirkkala: 

What’s happening at Pirkkala Air Base? 

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 which already took part in ‘Operation HX Challenge’ are France’s Rafale; the Eurofighter’s Typhoon; Sweden’s Saab Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F35s.

Although all the aircraft are designed to operate in sub-zero temperatures, the Air Force says when temperatures hover around zero with snow, sleet or freezing drizzle, it throws up extra challenges for the jets.

Harsh weather conditions can have an impact on the performance of electro-optical sensors in particular.