Finland Enhances Maritime and Border Security with Advanced Challenger 650 Aircraft

In a significant development for Finland’s border security, Sierra Nevada Corporation has been selected to deliver two multirole surveillance aircraft for the Finnish Border Guard. The new aircraft, based on Bombardier’s Challenger 650 business jet, will be equipped with advanced modifications to enhance their surveillance capabilities. This decision comes as the current fleet of Dornier 228 aircraft is nearing the end of its lifecycle.

The contract, valued at approximately 163 million euros, was finalized in Helsinki on June 27, 2024. The new aircraft are expected to enter service in 2026 and 2027, marking a substantial upgrade in operational capacity and technology. The acquisition is a part of the broader MVX Program, which began with a preliminary assessment in 2019.

“The new surveillance aircraft will significantly increase Finland’s capability in border security and maritime security tasks, which is important in our difficult-to-predict security environment,” stated Major General Matti Sarasmaa, Chief of Border and Coast Guard Division.

The Challenger 650 aircraft will be modified to meet the specific operational needs of the Finnish Border Guard. These modifications include the integration of state-of-the-art surveillance sensors and systems that enhance the aircraft’s ability to monitor land and sea borders, conduct search and rescue operations, and support environmental protection initiatives.

Brigadier General Jari Tolppanen, leader of the MVX Program, expressed confidence in the progression to the production phase. “The set performance goals are achieved within the budget frame. The Agreement is balanced. Sierra Nevada Corporation is a very capable and experienced supplier of surveillance aircraft,” he said.

The selection of Sierra Nevada Corporation was the culmination of a multi-phase bidding process that initially included nine suppliers. This number was narrowed down as the Finnish Border Guard assessed the offerings, leading to the final choice which promises to bring a generational leap in capabilities.

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Rosenqvist, the MVX Program Manager, emphasized the advanced nature of the new aircraft. “The Finnish Border Guard is about to have a capability whose performance and wide range of sensors is state of the art, even in international comparison. It is a world-class multirole aircraft that is capable of operating in the Finnish Border Guard’s demanding operating environment,” he noted.

Additionally, the new aircraft will support a wide array of tasks beyond surveillance, including aiding other authorities and participating in international cooperation efforts. The integration of systems from the Finnish Defense Forces and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is also planned, enhancing the multirole capability of the aircraft.

As the Finnish Border Guard prepares for this transition, the aircraft registrations are also set to evolve. The first new aircraft will be registered as OH-MVX, reflecting the forward-looking nature of this acquisition.

This strategic update to Finland’s aerial capabilities is set to provide enhanced security and operational efficiency for the next 30 years, representing a significant step in modernizing the country’s defense assets.

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