Asko Lindqvist is confident in Finland’s operational and technical competency to carry out the SQ2020 and HX Fighter Program procurements and highlights the importance of focusing upon the commercial and legal requirements.

Preparations for the pending procurements are well underway and have already been visible on the streets of Helsinki. There have been frequent visits by foreign suppliers to the Finnish capital as well as an unusually high number of international military exercises.

Asko Lindqvist, partner at Finnish law firm Borenius Attorneys Ltd, has been closely tied to the developments through Amcham’s Defence Industry Dialogue and a visit to Washington, D.C. in August.

“This is the time when the ground rules are being set and the project-specific concepts and specifications defined,” he says when we sit down to discuss the outlook for these procurements.

Lindqvist has a wealth of experience in this area and appreciates how challenging comparing tenders can be. A wide range of factors such as development products, life-cycle issues and related costs, intellectual property rights, not to forget questions related to supply line security and industrial participation need to be taken into account.

“It is a tremendous drain of resources for any organization, especially a country the size of Finland,” he says.

Lindqvist highlights the importance of ensuring that all requirements, descriptions and timetables are clear. Furthermore, based on his vast experience from previous defence procurements, successful tendering calls for in-depth knowledge of the operating environment and decision-making process in Finland as well as a clear understanding of the programs’ technical and commercial objectives.

“Although technical know-how and operational capabilities are crucial, it is equally important to have available resources on the commercial and legal sides to ensure a balanced outcome. For example, a lack of legal resources may delay the negotiation phase and cause timing issues. In addition, the necessary contracts should be tailored appropriately as contract templates which have been used previously may already be outdated,” Lindqvist says.

There are also lessons to be learned from the previous military procurements of NH90 Helicopters, the air defense radar system and the intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance system “Dragon Shield”. Such issues related to process management and the implementation of the programs.

Delivery delays, often substantial, may cause major challenges with regard to the implementation of the programs. “Contract provisions can provide monetary remedies but they certainly cannot provide satisfactory relief in all possible situations,” Lindqvist says.

“We also need to pay special attention to the quality of the drafting of the procurement contracts. In the past there have been certain contract provisions which have been contradictory. This can make interpreting the contracts very challenging if issues arise.”

“Furthermore, the meaning of certain legal concepts may be different in the supplier’s jurisdiction. It is impossible to foresee everything and to cover all eventualities in the contracts. Thorough and open negotiations play a key role in the overall success of the programs.”

Lindqvist’s aim in highlighting these issues is to ensure that the management of various aspects, including commercial and contractual requirements, will be coherent and well-balanced in order to maximize the prospects for the successful implementation of these upcoming procurements.

His call is to make sure to be well informed and to take advantage of all the experts, partners, and resources that are available. Be active and be present.

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