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Military Industry

By the late 1980s, nearly 40 percent of Finnish military equipment purchases were of domestic manufacture, the remainder being imported about equally from Soviet and Western sources. The Soviet Union was the largest single source, followed by Sweden, France, Britain, and the United States. Finnish industry was capable of supplying many of the Defense Forces' needs for explosives and ammunition, light weapons, mortars and artillery, ships, and transport. Low-level radar and many other electronic items were also being produced locally. Finland continued to be dependent on foreign suppliers for jet aircraft and helicopters, missiles, tanks and most armored vehicles, and antiaircraft systems.

Finland's own production capacity had gradually expanded beginning in the 1960s. Among the arms manufactured domestically were the M-60 122mm field gun, the M61/37 105mm howitzer, the M-62 assault rifle (a highly regarded redesigned version of the Soviet AK-47), and the M-62 light machine gun, the basic infantry weapons of the Finnish army. Domestic shipyards turned out all of the vessels needed by the navy, although much of their advanced electronic equipment and weaponry was imported. Earlier, a number of ships had been purchased from the Soviet Union and from Britain and had been modified in Finnish yards for minelaying and other special requirements. The only aircraft entirely of Finnish manufacture was the Valmet L-70 Vinka basic trainer. Another Valmet design, the Redigo, had been marketed abroad as a basic trainer without success. Analysts expected that the Finnish air force would acquire it as a light transport in the early 1990s. The British Hawk advanced jet trainer and later consignments of the Draken were assembled at the Valmet plant.

An all-terrain truck, the KB-45 manufactured by Sisu-Auto (SISU), was used by the Finnish army as a gun tractor and personnel carrier and by Swedish and Finnish peacekeeping forces in the Middle East. SISU also manufactured the SA-150 Masi allterrain truck and the NA-140 Nasu adverse terrain vehicle. The SISU A-180 Pasi, a newly designed six-wheeled amphibious armored personnel carrier, had been introduced into the army, and several hundred were on order as of 1988.

By 1988 the Finnish arms industry consisted of about twenty firms, most of them small subsidiaries of conglomerates primarily oriented toward civilian markets. The Ministry of Defense had its own plants for the manufacture of munitions and for the modernization of heavy equipment such as the T-55 tank. In addition to SISU and Valmet, one of the larger private manufacturers was Tampella, which produced field artillery, mortars, turret guns, and grenade launchers. Most of the missile boats were constructed by the Hollming shipyards in Rauma and at Wartsila's yards in Helsinki, although their weapons systems were acquired abroad.

Finnish arms exports were a minor item in the balance of trade, amounting to only Fmk60 million in 1986. Nearly half of these exports were to NATO countries, most of the remainder going to neutral developed countries such as Sweden. About half of the export total consisted of gunpowder. Ammunition, artillery shells, and assault rifles composed most of the remainder.

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Page last modified: 10-11-2012 19:40:54 ZULU