What is the explanation for the growing popularity of aircraft?

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Finland has recently joined a growing group of European armies purchasing US 64 F-35A Lightning II aircraft, Insider reports, according to Adevărul. But what is the explanation for the growing popularity of these devices among European allies in the United States?

On December 10, Finland announced a purchase of 64 F-35A Lightning II jets fighter jets produced by the American company Lockheed Martin. The $ 11.3 billion order will not begin until 2026, but it is Helsinki’s largest military supply to date and one of the largest in Europe. Finland plans to replace its F / A-18 Hornet fleet.

Finland is the only European country to buy the 5th generation American invisible fighter jets, according to the American publication.

Prior to that, in June, it was Switzerland that announced a $ 5.5 billion contract, describing the systems as “completely new, extremely powerful and widely connected” to protect and monitor airspace.

An act of fine balance

Finland is traditionally a non-aligned country, with only a NATO partner and an EU member. In the twentieth century, Finland fought against the USSR in two wars, but now has a working relationship with Russia, with a border of about 1335 kilometers.

“We have the same security challenges, so it makes perfect sense for NATO and Finland to work closely together on issues that are important to both of us.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Finland in October that the alliance’s door was open if Finland decided to join.

However, membership in NATO remains an unpopular option for the population and some of Finland’s political leaders.

Countries that operate versions of the F-35 or are awaiting delivery of the first aircraft include Belgium, Poland, Denmark, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Of these, the last five are founders of the F-35 development program – Turkey was fired after buying the Russian S-400 air defense system.

Countries that have shown interest in these top aircraft are Greece and possibly Spain and the Czech Republic, which are in talks with Lockheed Marin.

The popularity of these devices among US allies and European partners is due to multiple operational factors, writes Insider.

The 5th generation fighter jet is a mutirol aircraft designed primarily for air superiority (air-to-air) missions and air-to-ground strikes.

The F-35 is a multiplier force due to its intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities, which increase the efficiency of friendly air, naval and ground units by supplying real-time battlefield data.

F-35 invisible planes have been described as “sky foundations” precisely because of these capabilities.

The F-35 has a “stealth” profile that increases its survival rate – the weapons are inside – although it also has a “beast mode” configuration in which it changes in firepower. In this way it can carry four GBU-12 laser-guided bombs on its wings, two inside and an AIM-9 air-to-air missile.

It is also an economical purchase, being cheaper than fourth generation aircraft – an economic factor cited by Switzerland in its acquisition decision

However, the costs of operating and maintaining these devices are considerable – after each flight its “stealth” layer must be restored.

One hour of F-35 flight currently costs $ 36,000 compared to F-16, with an operating cost of $ 22,000 per hour.

The decision is equally geopolitical, financial and operational, especially given Russia’s intensified activity in recent years, writes Insider.

European acquisitions of this state-of-the-art equipment strengthen cooperation with the US and increase interoperability with the US military.

These factors may act as a deterrent against Russia and may lead Poland to abandon its competitive procurement procedure and procure these aircraft faster.

Finland, which said in December that there was no “direct military threat” to it, has increased its willingness to fight in recent weeks, saying the situation has not changed, although there have been risks due to ongoing military activities.

“The intensification of military action, even if it is an innocent move, proportionally increases the risk of incidents.”

remarked an officer.