Finnish Border Guard Narrows Contest to Three Bizjet Platforms

 - April 28, 2023, 6:36 AM
A company graphic depicts a Challenger 650 with Rapcon-X mission system in Finnish border guard colors. (Photo: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Finland's Suomen Rajavartiolaitos border guard force has selected four bidders to proceed to the next phase of its MVX fleet modernization competition. MVX is seeking a replacement for the current pair of Dornier Do 228-212 twin-turboprop aircraft, which operates with the air patrol squadron at Turku alongside Airbus H215 helicopters.

The upgrade to Finland’s border surveillance capability has become increasingly important in the light of growing tensions with Russia, especially following the Baltic nation formally joining the NATO alliance on April 4. The ”Raja” hopes to select an MVX winner before the end of the year, with service entry targeted for 2026/27. The lifetime of the two Dorniers has been extended from 2025 to cover the later MVX service entry date.

The MVX requirement—for an aircraft that can perform maritime and overland surveillance and environmental monitoring—was raised in 2019, with requests for information being sent to the industry in the following year. In April 2022 the government allocated a budget of €163 million ($179 million). Twenty-two potential suppliers responded to the request for information. In November 2022 the Raja announced that the MVX would be a business jet, naming the Bombardier Challenger 650, Cessna Citation Longitude, Dassault Falcon2000LXS, Embraer Praetor 600, and Gulfstream G280 as possible candidates.

At the same time, the number of suppliers was reduced to nine, comprising: Dassault Aviation (Falcon 2000LXS); Elbit Systems (Praetor 600 or Challenger 650); Elta Systems (G280); Field Aerospace (Challenger 650), General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada (Challenger 650); L3Harris Technologies (Falcon 2000LXS), PAL Aerospace Ltd. (unknown); Sierra Nevada Corporation (Challenger 650); and ST Airborne Systems (Challenger 650 or Citation Longitude).

In late April 2023, the field was narrowed to four, comprising three U.S. companies (Field, L3Harris and Sierra Nevada) and Swedish supplier ST Airborne Systems. They have been invited to the intermediate request for quotation stage, which will not only cover potential contract details but also the evaluation of the aircraft and proposed sensor fits. Field and Sierra Nevada are basing their proposals on the Challenger 650, while L3 Harris’s bid employs the Falcon. ST has selected the Citation as its platform. Sierra Nevada has announced that its bid is based on the company’s Rapcon-X mission system.