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