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Finnish Border Guard Selects Bombardier Challenger 650

Artist impression of new Bombardier Challenger 650 for Finland [© Finnish Border Guard]

Sierra Nevada Corporation is to deliver the Finnish Border Guard’s new surveillance aircraft based on the Bombardier Challenger 650.

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Press Release, Helsinki, 27 June 2024: The Finnish Border Guard’s Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft are coming to the end of their life cycle. The aircraft will be replaced by two new multirole aircraft, the supplier of which has now been selected. The aircraft will be manufactured by Canadian Bombardier, and the system integration will be carried out by American Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Sierra Nevada Corporation has been selected as the supplier of the following multirole aircraft for the Finnish Border Guard. The procurement contains two aircraft solutions based on Bombardier’s Challenger 650 business jet, which Sierra Nevada Corporation will modify to suit the operational needs of the Finnish Border Guard. The Agreement was signed in Helsinki on June 27, 2024. The aircraft are planned to enter service in 2026 and 2027.

In the final stage of the bidding competition, two Prime candidates submitted bids by the deadline. In the evaluation of the tender for the MVX Program, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s solution met the capability requirements set by the Finnish Border Guard. The selection was based on the supplier’s experience and demonstrated ability to implement complex aircraft modifications, as well as the ability to deliver the aircraft within the set deadline.

“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,” says Major General Matti Sarasmaa, Chief of Border and Coast Guard Division.

The leader of the MVX Program, Brigadier General Jari Tolppanen, is confident now that the Program is progressing 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,” states Tolppanen.

Modern, cost-effective performance: The Border Guard’s Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft are about to be decommissioned. With the new aircraft being acquired now, not only will the DO fleet be replaced, but also significant improvements will be achieved in the performance and capability of the Finnish Border Guard. With the new Challenger 650s, there will be significant improvement in operating time and greater transport capacity. In addition, the aircraft will be equipped with advanced technical systems and modern surveillance sensors. The new aircraft guarantee high-class performance and are designed to perform in various different tasks and conditions.

“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,” says the MVX Program Manager, Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Rosenqvist.

The Finnish Border Guard’s specialists have evaluated the equipment and systems to be procured in a major evaluation phase in 2023. In this way, it was ensured that the acquired entity meets the requirements and is suitable for its intended use. The total cost of the acquisition is some 163 million euros. The Finnish Parliament allocated funding for the acquisition in the 2023 budget. The financing covers two aircraft with their systems, as well as the training of the necessary personnel, technical support for commissioning and spare parts. The bidding process with its many phases proved that the solution offered by Sierra Nevada Corporation was cost-effective and capable.

Providing support to other authorities: The most important tasks of the Finnish Border Guard’s aircraft are monitoring of land and sea borders, search and rescue, identification of ships travelling the Baltic Sea, and detection of maritime environmental damages and leading their response operations. The aircraft also support other authorities in monitoring the state and situation of the Baltic Sea and in monitoring Finland’s territorial integrity. In addition to the Finnish Border Guards’ systems, the systems of the Finnish Defense Forces and the patient transport capability of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will be integrated into the aircraft. Moreover, the aircraft can participate in international cooperation.

The new aircraft will significantly improve Finland’s border security. The modern system body adapted to the operational needs of the Finnish Border Guard and the conditions of the operating environment is protean and agile. The MVX aircraft are strategic assets for the Finnish Border Guard and the entire Finnish society for the next 30 years. The multi-phase project is a combination of history and the future

The MVX Program started with a preliminary assessment in 2019. The project received funding in 2022. Initially, nine suppliers were invited to the bidding competition. As the project progressed, the number of Prime candidates was reduced from nine to four based on the preliminary solutions offered. The Finnish Border Guard and its experts evaluated the offered solutions and systems, and based on the results, two suppliers were invited to the final stage of the tender. After the final negotiation phase and overall consideration, Sierra Nevada Corporation was chosen as the aircraft supplier.

Over the years, the Finnish Border Guard’s aircraft have been registered almost without exception in alphabetical order. The first surveillance aircraft, VL Sääski II, was designated OH-MVA. The current Dorniers have the registrations OH-MVN and OH-MVO. Since the new jet-powered Challenger aircraft represent a big step forward and a new era in the aviation of the Finnish Border Guard, it has also been decided to take a bigger leap forward in the registrations. Therefore, the first new aircraft to be commissioned will be registered OH-MVX, and its sister OH-MVY.

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