The Danish government is recommending Denmark buy 27 Lockheed Martin F-35s to replace its aging F-16 fighter jets, top government officials announced during a press conference Thursday.
The Danish Prime Minister and the Defense Minister announced that the government is recommending Denmark purchase 27 F-35s at a price of 20 billion Danish Kroner, or about $3 billion. The next phase is an open debate in the Danish parliament, which is expected to last about a month before Denmark makes a final decision.
The Danish government chose the F-35 as the best option for its next-generation fighter fleet over Saab’s Gripen NG, Eurofighter’s Typhoon, and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet. Although critics frequently slam the joint strike fighter for cost overruns, the Danish government concluded buying the F-35 would actually be the cheapest option to meet national security needs.
Officials estimated life cycle costs are lowest for the JSF because Denmark needs fewer F-35s than Super Hornets or Eurofighters to perform the same missions, according to an executive summary of the type selection of Denmark's new fighter aircraft.
If parliament approves the decision, Denmark would be the 11th country to buy the fifth-generation fighter jet, joining the US, the UK, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Israel, South Korea and Japan.
"Lockheed Martin is pleased that Denmark has reaffirmed its commitment to the F-35 program with the down select of the F-35 in this fair and open competition," according to a May 12 Lockheed statement. "The F-35 Lightning II will help ensure Denmark’s national security, and also positions Danish industry to capture long-term work throughout the life of the program."
Denmark has eyed a replacement for its F-16s for years. The competition was in its early stages in 2010 when economic woes forced the government to pause the program. It was officially re-launched in 2013, but with a reduced buy — 30 fighters instead of 48.
"We are honored Denmark is considering the F-35A to meet its national defense requirements," according to a statement from the F-35 joint program office. "We understand the selection process for the New Fighter Program is still ongoing and the Joint Program Office will continue to provide the Danish Government with the data needed to make an informed decision that is in their country's best interest."