MVX project – The ageing surveillance aircraft must be replaced

The Finnish Border Guard is currently carrying out the MVX project to replace the Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft which was acquired in 1995.

The acquisition of new multi-purpose aircraft is critical for ensuring Finland's safety and for fulfilling the statutory duties of the Finnish Border Guard. The new aeroplanes are referred to as multi-purpose aircraft in order to make them more versatile. 

Finland's maritime operating environment is demanding. The narrow and shallow Baltic Sea is one of the busiest seas in the world and its ecology is sensitive. There are often near misses in Finnish sea areas, and the risk of a serious maritime accident is ever-present. The Finnish Border Guard must be able to maintain its capacity to manage environmental and major accidents, detect environmental damage and monitor Finland's borders and regional integrity. Aircraft play a key role in this work.

Maritime safety tasks are largely performed with the help of high-quality aircraft and surface equipment. Aircraft are an important tool and resource, and their main tasks are to monitor land and sea borders, to search and rescue, to identify vessels in the Baltic Sea, and to detect, manage and combat marine environmental damage. In addition, the aircraft participate in the control of Finland's territorial integrity and support environmental and other authorities in monitoring the state of the Baltic Sea. The Finnish Border Guard's aircraft serve the whole of Finland.

The Finnish Border Guard's aircraft also participate in international cooperation that binds Finland. In the Mediterranean, The Finnish Border Guard participates in the European Border and Coast Guard Agency's (Frontex) operations, where aircraft have been tasked with detecting illegal immigration, and other coastguard activities such as environmental and fisheries control, and the fight against cross-border crime. Finland also fulfils the environmental control obligations required by the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (HELCOM) through aircraft control. In addition, Finland also participates in annual control operations and exercises of HELCOM. 

− There have been surprising changes in the international security environment in recent years. The changes emphasise the need to maintain a credible and independent operational capability of aircraft in Finland, whether it is for border safety, prevention of marine environmental accidents, pandemic situation management or military defence. The Finnish Border Guard's aircraft cannot be replaced by any other method or equipment, says Programme Manager, Brigadier General Jari Tolppanen.

MVX project prepares for the acquisition of aircraft

The current Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft are nearing the end of their working life and are becoming difficult to maintain. The need for aircraft maintenance is increasing, and the operational activities of the aircraft are interrupted during scheduled maintenance and increasing unforeseen failures. It is therefore necessary to acquire new multi-purpose aircraft on the planned schedule.

The MVX project and the acquisition of new multi-purpose aircraft aim for performance that would enable:

  • Flying longer distances and thus covering wider areas
  • Larger transport capacity
  • The use of the latest technology and more advanced technical systems, including real-time and encrypted data transfer
  • Longer-term functional capacity in a potential environmental damage control missions.

Such a versatile and adaptable ‘Swiss army knife’ is a practical and cost-effective solution. Only a manned aircraft can cope with varying tasks in Finland's demanding conditions, and it is the most cost-effective and versatile solution for aircraft surveillance and search tasks.

The replacement of Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft with new multi-purpose aircraft is in line with Prime Minister Sanna Marin's government programme. The goal of the Finnish Border Guard's MVX project is to replace Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft by 2025. During 2020, the information request procedure for the MVX project, which prepares for the acquisition of aircraft, identified potential aircraft suppliers. The Finnish Border Guard is ready to continue the MVX project immediately after the order authorization and budget have been granted.

What does MVX mean?

  • The flight operations of the Finnish Border Guard's predecessor, the Finnish Coast Guard, started on 14th August 1930 with the VL Sääski II aircraft.
  • The aircraft received the civil registry code OH-MVA.
  • Almost all Finnish Border Guard’s aircraft have since been registered in alphabetical order.
  • The current Dorniers are OH-MVN and OH-MVO, i.e., in aviation language ‘Mike Victor November’ and ‘Mike Victor Oscar'.
  • The type and registration numbers of future aircraft are, of course, a mystery at this stage and therefore the project has been named the MVX project.

Plane flying in the sky.