HELSINKI (Reuters) - President Sauli Niinisto on Tuesday denied that Finland was buying new fighter jets from American planemaker Boeing BA.N, following remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Finland is looking to replace its ageing fleet of 62 F/A-18 Hornet jets with multirole fighter aircraft in a procurement estimated at 7-10 billion euros by 2025.
“One of the things that is happening is you’re purchasing large amounts of our great F-18 aircraft from Boeing and it’s one of the great planes, the great fighter jets,” Trump said on Monday at a news conference with his Finnish counterpart in the White House.
Niinisto, who was standing next to Trump, looked surprised but did not follow up on the comment. He later denied the deal with Boeing on his Twitter account and on Tuesday in Washington.
“It seems that on the sale side, past decisions and hopes about future decisions have mixed ... The purchase is just starting, and that is very clear here,” Niinisto told Finnish reporters.
Helsinki is expected to request that European and U.S. planemakers provide quotations for new jets in 2018, with a final decision made in the early 2020s.
A government working group has listed possible candidates as Saab's SAABb.ST Jas Gripen, Dassault Aviation’s AVMD.PA Rafale, Boeing’s Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s LMT.N F-35 and the Eurofighter, made by Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Reporting by Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Janet Lawrence
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