The Finnish Air Force has awarded a contract to Patria Aviation, for cockpit and avionics upgrade of 18 BAE Systems Hawk mk66 jet trainers.

The €40m ($57m) contract also includes work to maintain and return the stored aircraft fleet to flight condition.

Patria will use a CMC Electronics-developed avionics system to upgrade the trainers, which will be delivered between 2010 and 2013.

Patria will make the software upgrade itself, to create an extensive domestic software maintenance and development competence for the entire life-span of the Hawk fleet.

Similar to its Hawk mk51 and mk51A aircraft, the Finnish Air Force acquired 18 used, low-hour BAES Hawk mk66 jet trainers from Switzerland, in 2007.

The first Patria upgraded Hawk jet trainer with the modern avionics and a glass cockpit successfully performed its first flight in September 2008.