HomeNewsAviationFinnish Border Guard to upgrade their aircraft fleet

Finnish Border Guard to upgrade their aircraft fleet

The main tasks of the Finnish Border Guard include maintaining border and maritime security and providing national defence. The operating environment for border security has undergone major changes during the coronavirus pandemic and now, in particular, following the shocks to European security.

Since 2019, the Border Guard has been engaged in the MVX program, the aim of which is to replace the two Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft currently used by the Border Guard. The technical condition of the ageing equipment is deteriorating, and downtimes are increasing. The replacement of the aircraft is necessary in order to maintain Finland’s ability to function at sea and thus maintain the security of people, the environment and the state. 

On the basis of an extensive study, which also examined the options for unmanned aviation, the decision has been made to replace the Dornier 228 with new manned aircraft. The tasks of the new aircraft are planned to be similar to those of the existing ones, but improvements will be made, as planned, to their ability to respond to continuous changes in the operating environment. The design of the new machines will also take into account the growing need to improve the surveillance of the eastern border and, as part of this, the monitoring of Finland’s territorial integrity. 

As part of the program, an extensive request for information was issued in 2020, and the results of this have been used to analyse and focus on the available options. The program has now progressed to a stage where more specific information is being requested from potential suppliers. This additional information will ensure that the program can continue as planned. 

The main tasks of surveillance aircraft are border control on land and at sea, the rescue of people in distress at sea, detection of marine environmental damage and support for operations responding to such damage. In addition, the aircraft participate in the control of Finland’s territorial integrity and support environmental authorities in monitoring the state of the Baltic Sea.

– There have been surprising and rapid changes in the Finnish security environment in recent years. It is important that the aged and soon-to-be decommissioned Dornier surveillance aircraft is finally replaced. In the acquisition of new surveillance equipment, we emphasise the ability to produce a reliable and comprehensive situation picture for the eastern border so that Finland can respond to evolving situations in a timely and efficient manner, explains Project Director Brigadier General Jari Tolppanen.

During the spending limits discussion held on 5 April 2022, the Government decided to allocate EUR 163 million for the purchase of multirole aircraft to replace the Dornier surveillance aircraft. The procurement process will be implemented as soon as possible with the aim of concluding a procurement contract during 2023, which would mean the new capabilities would be deployed in 2026. The lifecycle of the Dornier aircraft will be extended from 2025, as originally planned, to 2027 in order to maintain critical capabilities at all times. A more detailed request for information is now being published for potential suppliers. 

The Border Guard’s air operations

Aeroplanes carry out border surveillance on land and sea and monitor the territorial integrity of Finland. In addition, they also 

  • take part in maritime rescue operations and search for missing persons on land and at sea, 
  • detect marine oil spills and document evidence for the sanction procedure,
  • indicate the position of oil slicks for oil spill prevention and response vessels as part of responses to maritime environment accidents, 
  • participate in border control operations in the Mediterranean area which are led by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex. These may involve detection of illegal immigration, environmental and fisheries surveillance, and combating cross-border crime.

What does MVX mean?

  • The flight operations of the Finnish Border Guard’s predecessor, the Finnish Coast Guard, started on 14th August 1930 with the VL Sääski II aircraft.
  • The aircraft received the civil registry code OH-MVA. Almost all the Finnish Border Guard’s aircraft have since been registered in alphabetical order.
  • The current Dorniers are OH-MVN and OH-MVO – in aviation language ‘Mike Victor November’ and ‘Mike Victor Oscar’.
  • The type and registration numbers of the future aircraft are, of course, a mystery at this stage, so the program has been named the MVX program.

The following improvements to the performance of current aircraft are aimed at acquiring new multi-purpose aircraft

  • significant improvement in operating time and thus coverage of wider areas with monitoring and ensuring longer-term operational capability in environmental damage prevention tasks,
  • more efficient technical monitoring sensors,
  • greater transport capacity and
  • utilization of the latest technology and more advanced technical systems, including real-time and encrypted data transmission.

The new, more capable multi-purpose aircraft will significantly improve Finland’s border security and control of territorial integrity.

The Border Guard invited nine suppliers to the tender. In the future, there will be four Prime candidates from those who participated in the tender by the deadline. In their initial offers, the selected prime candidates showed solutions that correspond well to our requirements, both in terms of aircraft and control systems. Next, the practical evaluation of the offered entities will begin. The first round of negotiations will take place in the summer of 2023 and, if necessary, more rounds of negotiations will be held in the fall of 2023. The Border Guard has the goal of concluding a procurement contract with the selected supplier by the end of 2023. The machines are supposed to be put into operational use during the years 2026−2027.

Future Prime candidates 

  • Field Aerospace
  • L3Harris Technologies
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • St Airborne Systems.

Among the aircraft offered by suppliers are the Bombardier Challenger 650, Dassault Falcon 2000LXS and Cessna Citation Longitude. 

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