First a disclaimer: I’m not serving in Air Force, nor did I recieve the orginal RFIs from anywhere. I have tried contacting the manufacturers, but I have not always been succesfull of getting more information on HX fighters.
All RFIs came in yesterday 22.11.2016 for materiel command of Finnish Air Force. There are thousands of English language pages in each RFI so next step forward won’t be until 2018. YLE finnish broadcasting corporation seemed to be overly concerned about lobbying the evaluation personnel.(and journos as well) but fails to see that in yhe end the decision is political one.
The differences between fighters here are quite small. Eventually the armaments will be the same, and to great extend the sensors, or components of sensors, come from same companies. so even there the differences should be small. Though the days of piston engine fighters are long gone, there is still, smaller but still there, differences in kinematic and physical performance. Also it used to be that Western planes enjoyed edge in avionic systems, even the differences between Russian and Western avionics suites are quite small, let alone between western fighters themselves.
So the greatest differences between planes are in political and economical spheres. Even there SAAb, Dassault and BAE are in equal terms as all are EU allies, and all have offered an assembly line for Patria, and are offering R&D partnership for the future. US makes a bit of difference here. Repairing and Assembly of the F-35 will happen in Italy, which is too far away from Finland to be viable option for wartime FAF. Boeing did not have problem assembling some of the F/A-18 C s in Finland, so most likely there would not be problem this regard with E either.
So where will the devil lie in HX-replacement program? It will lie in doctrine of FAF: The planes need to be able to take off and land to short runways, be managed by small teams of mechanics, be able to be quickly dispersed, and be rugged enough to take wear and tear of wartime use. SAAB Boeing and Dassault feel that they can fill the bill. Lockheed Martin and BAE are a bit of a question mark in this regard. At least F-35 ability to operate from dispersed airfields leave a lot of questions. USAF plans to use hardened bases, not dispersed ones. USMC version might do better, but I do not know what is being offered.
Also pricing was asked for 18-36-72 planes, so it would seem, that the about 72 planes is the option Finns are thinking. (It is still a bit low, but nobody is asking me.) and the offer CAN incorporate unmanned platforms as part of the deal.
I’m sure there is more to tell in close future.