Finland made a point of purchasing equipment from both the Soviets and the West. One Finnish Air Force wing operated Soviet-built MiG-21 fighters (and thereby gave Western observers a particularly good look at them). A second such unit flew fighter aircraft built in Sweden. Great Britain provided an electronic air defense control system, while also supplying advanced trainer aircraft that were assembled in Finland. The Finnish firm of Finavitec, formerly known as Valmet, also built aircraft of its own. Since 1922 it has constructed 30 different types, including 19 of Finnish design.
The collapse of the Soviet Union, after 1990, gave Finland greater freedom to turn to the West. Finavitec has responded by arranging to assemble Boeing F-18C fighters for Finland's Air Force. Assembling F-18C Hornet fighters for the Finnish Air Force from kits up to the year 2000, plus their engines. Component manufacture includes tail surfaces for Saab 2000 (ending) and fuselage panels for Hornet.
Finavitec was taken over from Valmet Aviation Industries. Valmet Aviation Industries Inc., was later Finavitec Oy, was later Patria Finavitec Oy, was later Patria Aviation Oy. Patria Industries is a Finnish technology group whose business activities include defence, aerospace and space, and telecommunications products and services. Among the most important products and services are aircraft and helicopter maintenance, aerospace structures and electronic systems, military and special vehicles, airport snow removal equipment and weapon systems. Patria Group┤s annual sales in 1998 totalled up to EUR 178 million and the Group employs over 2000 people. Patria Finavitec Oy, Patria Finavicomp Oy and Patria Ostermans AB form the Finavitec Business Group in Patria Group. Patria Finavitec Oy is specialised in the aerospace and electronic technologies.
In February 1997, only four and a half years into a 13-year industrial participation program, McDonnell Douglas had already satisfied more than two-thirds of the offset obligation to Finland for the country's buy of 64 F/A-18 Hornets in 1992. The industrial participation program was valued at more than USD $3 billion. "Through a highly successful industrial participation program with our company, Finland has received more than $2 billion in economic benefit well in advance of return payments for the F/A-18s it has purchased," said Michael M. Sears, president of McDonnell Douglas Aerospace. "This is solid proof of how our industrial participation programs can significantly contribute to a country's industrial and economic base while dramatically improving its national defense capabilities," he added.
The industrial participation program had about 170 Finnish companies participating in more than 400 projects that have been initiated or approved for the program. These companies represent a broad spectrum of Finland's industries, including transportation, telecommunications, shipbuilding, construction, pulp and paper, energy and specialty equipment. The primary focus of these industries in the industrial participation program has been on acquiring technologies that enhance their efficiency and competitiveness and on promoting the export of their high value goods and services. As a result, new markets have been opened for Finnish companies in such countries as Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, India, Israel, Philippines, Mexico, Malaysia, Venezuela and Turkey.
Another important element of the industrial participation program is the co-production of the F/A-18 aircraft by Finavitec, Finland's largest aerospace company. Finavitec produced fuselage side panels and dorsal covers for the aircraft, as well as performing final assembly of 57 single-seat F/A-18Cs. Six aircraft have been assembled by Finavitec by early 1997, with the remainder scheduled for completion by 2000. McDonnell Douglas delivered the first seven two-seat F/A-18Ds in 1995.
The success of McDonnell Douglas' industrial participation program in Finland is based in part on the company's close ties with more than 400 suppliers and business partners in 76 countries throughout the world. These companies, which represent some of the biggest names in every major industry, have sales exceeding USD $260 billion. McDonnell Douglas had revenues exceeding USD $13.8 billion in 1996. Besides Finland, McDonnell Douglas has more than 40 other offset programs in over 25 different countries, making it the world leader in developing and implementing industrial participation programs. All programs completed to date have met or exceeded the offset obligation on or ahead of schedule.
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