This year, Patria's committed and cooperative STIC expert team won the Finnish Air Force’s prestigious F-18 Hornet Handler award.

Text: Otavamedia Photos: Patria

The STIC system testing team, which is part of Systems business unit’s Fighter a/c product group, won the 2020 F-18 Hornet Handler award. STIC is an acronym for Software Test and Integration Center.

Product Group Manager Laura Hakanen sees the award as a recognition of the committed and cooperative team’s long-term efforts in F/A-18 Hornet software testing and system expertise.

“It’s great that we have this kind of expertise in Finland. Our specialists have engaged in determined development work to safeguard the performance of these aircraft, and the test stand has played a key role in this.”

STIC system testing and integration environment lies at the heart of software verification and problem-solving

STIC that Hakanen is referring to is a testing and integration environment for the Hornet avionics system and software. It’s a combination of genuine avionics equipment, software and simulated environment. The STIC environment enables software verification and demanding problem-solving in complex system level issues. It has helped

the STIC team to become a top expert - key player in sustaining and developing F/A-18 operational capability. She describes the team itself as very tightly knit.

 “We’re a close team. We’re open with one another and help each other to develop. We’re friends and we know each other well.”

The first discussions about setting up a test stand and acquiring system expertise in Finland were held between the Finnish Air Force, Boeing and Patria in 1997. The first project was launched in 2000, and some team members have been involved from the outset.

The team usually has about seven members with engineering degrees or doctorates in science. It is also supported by a large number of people working in maintenance and other positions.

Towards increasingly demanding challenges

Boeing’s aircraft factory donated the F-18 Hornet Handler trophy to the Finnish Air Force at the handover ceremony held on 9 August 2000, after the final F/A-18 Hornet had been assembled in Finland. Since then, the rolling trophy has been awarded annually on the Air Systems Division’s traditional date of 1 April.

Hornet Handler

It is a rotating award that recognises a person or team that either works with fighter aircraft in a flight technical position in the Finnish Air Force, or works for one of the Air Force’s stakeholders in a position with direct impact on this field.

“Long-term merit in assuring the performance of the Hornet fleet and a steadfast desire to work conscientiously in the best interests of maintaining the fighters.” Hakanen fully subscribes to these sentiments, which were expressed when the award was presented.

“The STIC team has done some very demanding work. They’ve come a long way and their journey will continue. The team’s expertise has created a firm foundation for future requirements, as Finland moves towards even more demanding systems with the acquisition of its new fighters.”