Denmark is eager to buy up to 28 new Lockheed Martin F-35s, but nobody really knows where the money for the stealthy multi-role fighters will have to come from.
Officially the Danes haven’t made a decision yet on which aircraft replaces the F-16. But the Royal Danish Air Force focuses on the American aircraft so much, that Swedish SAAB already dropped out of the race in an early stage. The Swedes don’t see any fair play in the process after judging the criteria set by the Danish Ministry of Defence.
The Danes keep up appearances by saying the Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon or the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet may still be chosen, but nobody with insight into the process really believes that is the case. Nevertheless, Boeing recently began a final charm offensive towards Copenhagen in the hope to sell its Super Hornet, in particular now that Kuwait has opted for the Typhoon over the Boeing jet.
In the Danish capital, the debate on where the billions of dollars for the new jets have to come from has flared up again. As a cost-saving action is likely to buy Denmark between 24 and 28 jets, down from the projected 30 to fulfill basic needs. But that won’t be enough. Defence watchers fear the Danish military will be emptied from the inside – focusing on high-profile international operations with the new jet and undermining the strength on the ground and at sea.
Denmark won’t be the first. Officers of the Norwegian armed forces – Norway plans 52 F-35s – were recently ordered to turn in their sidearm, while the Norwegian navy is struggling to keep new frigates operational and manned.
For the Danes a same future lies ahead in a strategically located country that – when looking at its relatively small defence force – was already not taken seriously before NATO expanded with even less capable former Warsaw Pact countries.
Until the introduction of the new combat jet, the Royal Danish Air Force soldiers on by keeping 24 F-16s operational (with more in long-term maintenance). Their role will almost certainly be taken over by F-35s, but when and with what consequences the next few years will tell.
© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An F-35A inflight. (Image © Lockheed Martin)