The Finnish Defence Forces and Patria have a strategic partnership agreement for the life-cycle support of military aircraft and related systems. Maintaining the mission capability and performance of the aircraft and systems requires cooperation between the Defence Forces and industry. Cooperation between the Finnish Air Force and Patria has created a support concept which produces cost efficient life-cycle support services, including the extension of the life-cycle of Hawk Jet Trainers from 2015 to 2030. Working in close co-operation with the Finnish Air Force as the operator and BAE Systems, the manufacturer and designer of Hawk Jet Trainers has provided Patria with extensive expertise on the aircraft and as a result, successful life-cycle support and upgrade projects. The Hawk entered Finnish service in 1980. Four British-built aircraft were followed by 46 examples assembled by Patria in Finland. In 1993, the Finnish Air Force ordered an additional batch of seven Hawk Mk 51As. The hard-flown Hawks were subjected to an extensive structural reinforcement program that was completed in Finland during the late 1990s.
“Our mission is to let our customers focus on their core operations as we concentrate maintaining the utmost high operational readiness and mission capability of their aircraft fleet. Patria’s structural analysis and repair capabilities were applied with great success to a life extension programme of the Finnish Air Force Hawk Mk51 fleet”, says Jukka Holkeri, Chief Strategy Officer for Patria. “All this world class knowledge of structural integrity management helps our customers reduce their capital investment by forecasting and preventing problems associating with aeronautical fatigue. Service life extension is therefore often an attractive option instead of buying new aircraft. Even rebuilding a crashed aircraft can sometimes be economically feasible as we have successfully shown several times.”
Finland augmented its Hawk fleet in 2007 by sourcing 18 low-hour Mk 66s from Switzerland. They entered service after modification and upgrade work by Patria, completed in 2011−2013. After the successful modifications and upgrades of Mk 66 trainers, the Hawks will continue in service of the Finnish Air Forces, updated to new standards and demands. The Hawks are scheduled to remain in service until the 2030s. After 2016, the Air Force will have a fleet of 24 Hawks with upgraded cockpits.
The upgrades carried out by Patria make the Hawk an updated and effective training platform. The upgrade was competed on all Mk 66s, seven Mk 51As, and one Mk 51. Mk 51s not subjected to upgrade will be phased out by the end of 2016. Patria has made a bid for the Finnish Air Force to upgrade seven Hawk Mk.51 jet trainers to ensure their flight hours amount to 2030s. These trainers still have more than a third of their flight hours left, which means approximately 15-20 years in service. Patria’s mission is to provide the customer’s aircraft fleet with first class mission readiness availability in every circumstance. Maintenance is Patria's core know-how area. The Aeronautical Engineering capabilities cover a wide variety of services from damage and repair analysis to design of preventive modifications and structural health monitoring programmes. The use of modern analysis software tools guarantees our airframe structural repair design capability whether it comes to fatigue or accidental damage. Our structural Finite Element Models are based on a complete airframe simulation loaded with integrated pressure distributions. Combined with accurate submodels, they are effective tools for managing structural issues.
Patria is committed to the continuing co-operation with the Finnish Air Force, the co-operation dating back several decades. The company’s long history and solid know-how guarantees a commitment to developing the aviation industry. In over 80 years we have designed 19 military aircraft types from primary trainers to first line fighters and manufactured almost 1,000 aircraft. Now we take full advantage of this heritage by applying our in-depth knowledge to maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). Today our portfolio covers routine MRO of Hornet F/A-18 C/D, Hawk Mk51/51A and Mk66, CASA C-295M and Fokker F27 as well as Vinka and Redigo aircraft being our annual production output more than 150 overhauled and/or repaired aircraft.