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Danmarks nye kampfly | F-35 Lightning II

Denmarks new Fighter | F-35 Lightning II

On 9 June 2016 the Danish Government, the Social Democrats, the Danish Social-Liberal Party, Liberal Alliance and the Danish People’s Party have entered into an agreement on new fighter aircraft in replacement of the ageing F-16 jets. It was agreed to procure 27 F-35 fighter aircraft, and to finance this procurement within the budgetary framework of the Danish Defence – with the ambition of keeping intact its operational capabilities.
 the Government’s recommendation (factsheet)

The Political proces

It is stated in the Danish Defence Agreement 2013- 2017 that Denmark is to have at its disposal a fighter aircraft capacity in the future as well. It has therefore been politically determined that fighter aircraft are to continue to constitute a part of the Danish defence and must contribute to safeguarding Danish security policy interests.

The background to the focus on the new fighter in the defence agreement comes from, among other things, the report from the Defence Commission 2008 and the Danish Defence Agreement 2010-2014. These reports identified a continued Danish security policy need for fighter aircraft in order to defend the sovereignty of Danish national air space, to continue the surveillance of national areas of interest and to maintain the option of deploying fighters for international operations.

The current type selection process began in 2013 and was a resumption of a previous type selection process which was put on hold in 2010. The decision to postpone the original type selection process in 2010 was taken with a reference to the fact that it was possible to use the F-16 fighters longer than originally planned. Included in the current type selection process was the Eurofighter, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

The objective of the process leading to the type selection was to create the best possible foundation for a political decision among the three fighter aircraft candidates participating in the process. The type selection process formed the basis for entering into negotiations with the chosen candidate regarding subsequent procurement. In addition, a part of the type selection process was also to determine the most favourable economic and operational phasing in and out periods for the fighter aircraft. 

New Fighter Program
In order to prepare the decision-making basis for procuring new fighters, the New Fighter Program was set up in March 2013. The New Fighter Program was an integral part of the Danish Ministry of Defence and was given the task of, among other things, evaluating the three fighter candidates within four fundamental areas: strategic, military, economic and industrial aspects. The Program is now based in Danish Ministry of Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation (DALO).

The ageing F-16 fighters are to be retired
When they reach the expected phasing-out period in 2020-2024, the Danish F-16 fighters will have been flying for more than 40 years. They are approaching the limits for how many flight hours that are left in each airframe. Denmark’s current F-16 partners have already replaced or are in the process of replacing their F-16 fighters. This will have consequences for Denmark’s opportunities for future cooperation with other F-16 users. Over time, Denmark would thus, for example, stand alone in facing the increasing costs of procuring new spare parts, updating and maintaining the aircraft. Overall, an extension of the lifespan will, therefore, involve significant operational, technical and economic challenges.

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