Finland’s Ministry of Defence plans to send out invitations to tender for the purchase of 64 new fighter jets. The new jets will replace the current stock of 64 F/A-18 Hornet jets, which have served the Finnish military since 1992.

The defence report, which was approved by the Parliament in February, says that the readiness of the current fleet must be fully maintained after the procurement.

“We have interpreted that to mean 64 fighter jets. Because the new jets are not faster and can’t stay up in the air any longer than the current ones, we will require the same number of jets to maintain the performance of our air defence”, says Lauri Puranen from the Ministry.

“That is the minimum number we need to defend a country of this size.”

Parliament has decided that it will spend between 7 and 10 billion euros the new jets, which will make the acquisition the most purchase by Finland ever.

The ministry said it will send out invitations to tender in early 2018 to Boeing and Lockheed Martin from the US, Saab from Sweden, Dessault Aviation in France and the British-European BAE Systems.

The new government taking up office in 2019 will make a decision about purchasing fighter jets to replace the current stock of Hornet jets at the end of 2021. The current fleet will be retired by 2030.

In August President Donald Trump caused a minor controversy when he announced during a joint press conference with President Sauli Niinistö that Finland was buying fighter jets from the US. That claim was denied by Niinistö later on Twitter.