Denmark delays decision on F-35 purchase until next year

Denmark is postponing making a decision from a fighter jet competition that includes the F-35.
Denmark is postponing making a decision from a fighter jet competition that includes the F-35. Bloomberg

Denmark is postponing an announcement for buying a new fighter jet, dashing hopes by Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon to end the year with another order for the stealthy F-35 Lightning II tactical fighter.

Danish Defense Minister Peter Christensen has told a parliamentary defense committee that there will be no announcement on buying the F-35 or any other fighter jet until the government settles all of its funding issues, pushing back any decision to 2016, according to Defense News report out of Helsinki.

Reportedly the committee has sought information from Christensen on technical questions raised about the F-35’s capabilities and didn’t receive it, but the jet’s price tag also has been a factor, the news service reported.

Attempts by the Star-Telegram to reach the Danish Embassy in Washington, D.C., were not successful. The Pentagon F-35 program office also did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

Lockheed Martin officials were anxiously awaiting the announcement by Denmark after the Canadian government said it had decided to enter the F-35 into an open competition with other fighter jets instead of making an outright purchase.

In a statement released Monday, Lockheed Martin said it continues to support the Danish government and that it’s proud to offer the F-35 for Denmark’s new fighter competition. The F-35 is in competition with Boeing’s F/A-Super Hornet and the Eurofighter consortium Typhoon, according to Defense News. Denmark currently flies Lockheed’s F-16.

“The F-35 Lightning II offers the most advanced capability, lowest life cycle cost and a solid industrial program that is already producing revenue and employment for Danish industry,” said Mark Johnson, a spokesman for the F-35 program in Fort Worth.

Denmark is on tap to buy 30 F-35As, the version that is being built for the U.S. Air Force. The competition with the other planes was always a part of the process, although Denmark, as a partner country, already has contributed to the F-35’s development.

Denmark also has participated in the F-35 flight test program at Edwards Air Force Base in California, Johnson said.

Lockheed officials have taken some comfort in recent weeks from the announcement by United Kingdom officials that they still plan to buy 138 F-35s and will, following the terrorist attacks in Paris, accelerate their purchases by establishing an additional fighter squadron.

The Italian military also took possession of its first F-35 last week. Delivery of the F-35A Lightning II took place in Cameri, Italy, at a final assembly and checkout facility. While Italy is the sixth nation to receive an F-35, its fighter is the first to have its final assembly done in another country.

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB