US approves possible sale of fighter jets, missiles to Finland

Finland, which shares Arctic borders with Russia and Norway, is not a NATO member.

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A Finnish F-18 fighter jet retracts its landing gear. (David Smith / CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of U.S.-made fighter jets and precision guided munitions to Finland as the country modernizes its military, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Several jet makers are competing to replace Finland’s retiring Boeing Co F/A-18s and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability.

[Nordic defense ministers sign landmark security deal]

In a move that would ease the way for the export of the U.S. jets, the State Department approved the potential sale of 64 F-35A spare parts, munitions and training for an estimated $12.5 billion. The F-35 is made by Lockheed Martin Co.

The State Department also approved the potential sale of three types of Boeing-made fighter jets including 50 F/A-18E Super Hornets, eight F/A-18F Super Hornets and 14 EA-18G Growler jets plus spare parts, munitions and training for an estimated $14.7 billion.

The notification alerts the U.S. Congress that a sale to a foreign country has been approved, but does not indicate that a contract has been signed or negotiations have concluded.

[Northern Finland and Sweden will play a key role in NATO’s large exercise in Norway]

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale.

Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometer (833-mile) border with Russia, has compulsory military service for all men and is one of six European Union members that have not also joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.