Denmark: and then there were three

Denmark is still about a year away from taking a decision in its new combat aircraft programme, but things got interesting early this week, as the deadline passed for bidders to submit responses to its April request for information.

Boeing is pitching its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter the Typhoon (the latter in a bid led by partner company Airbus Defence & Space) against Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. But Sweden’s FXM export body and Saab have withdrawn the Gripen, following a “comprehensive assessment”.

f-35

With Denmark being a Level 3 international partner in the JSF programme it’s hard to see how it isn’t going to end up picking the F-35 (US Air Force image above), but the fact that two of Lockheed’s three potential rivals remain involved in the process indicates that its defence ministry has at least set a fair set of exam questions.

It’s either that, or a case of Boeing and Eurofighter having to pursue however much of an opportunity they have, due to their march towards production ends.

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13 Responses to Denmark: and then there were three

  1. Ed 25 July, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Denmark may be a partner in the JSF programme, but they didn’t sign anything regarding a purchase, did they? I don’t know why people assume the former must lead, as if per law of nature, to the latter. I’ve yet to hear a solid explanation.

    I find it strange that the Gripen is out though – did the Swedes make the same assumption as above?

    • Craig Hoyle 25 July, 2014 at 11:30 am #

      There is a solid explanation, Ed: despite all the programme’s well-documented problems, every one of the SDD partner nations – bar Canada and Denmark – have ordered the aircraft. Both of these are pursuing competitions, but they hinge on the requirements being written without phrases like “fifth-generation” being included. I’m not sure that that’s really going to happen!

      • Ed 25 July, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

        I’m sorry Craig, but I’d say that’s an observation rather than an explanation. I would like to know a reason why it seems so inevitable.

        I do agree though that if LO is part of the (absolute, basic) requirements there really isn’t a competition, but perhaps not every country has a need for that? Certainly if it comes at such added cost, a lower-end solution may suffice.

        • Craig Hoyle 25 July, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

          An observation maybe, but it shows how much people have kept faith with this programme, despite its challenges.

          Will Denmark ditch about 30 years of EPAF experience with fellow F-16 operators – who are going F-35 – and also lose the commonality with the USAF valued in places like Libya? I just can’t see it.

          Canada’s use of the classic Hornet has pretty much sidelined its international contributions, and it’s only the “it’s a big country, so it needs two engines” argument that is probably encouraging anyone else to bid there.

          But, as ever, what do any of us know about what really drives such selections?!

          • Negro Diente 26 July, 2014 at 9:18 am #

            Craig, in what ways has Canada’s use of classic Hornet sidelined its international contributions? It seems to be doing more by deploying Hornets to support operations over Libya and to Eastern Europe as a show of support in the current Ukrainian crisis than other F-16 operators.

          • Ed 26 July, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

            It’s true that people have kept their faith, apparently, but I’m still trying to figure out why…

            As in the Libya example, the Eurocanards were lauded for their contributions as well, which only seems to show that it shouldn’t be necessary to “have what they (the US) have” to participate. Or were the Eurocanards at a distinct disadvantage for that reason?

            Would small countries such as Denmark perhaps need the support of a large power like the US to participate, while countries such as the UK are able to stand on their own feet?

            I guess it’s true that there was an excellent history of cooperation with the US regarding the Fighting Falcon, but obviously there is a limit to how strongly countries can hold on to that. I’m probably putting it a bit harshly, but, with the broken promises regarding affordability and delivery dates, isn’t the argument of ‘good experience with the US’ already lost?

            I really share the frustration regarding the selection process. So often there seems to be no way to tell who had influence over the process, where information comes from and whether it has been assessed for its accuracy – basically whether ulterior motives were allowed to be involved. I feel that, as it regards tax money (in no small amounts), the public should have some right to transparency.

  2. sferrin 26 July, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    “As in the Libya example, the Eurocanards were lauded for their contributions as well, which only seems to show that it shouldn’t be necessary to “have what they (the US) have” to participate.”

    Libya hardly had any air defenses of note so that’s not exactly a resounding endorsement of the Eurocanards.

    • Ed 26 July, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

      That depends entirely on Denmark’s ambition. If this is the kind of scenario they want to be able to deal with, it’s fine. In fact, I can fully imagine that most countries wouldn’t want to bother with being able to surpress the air defences of another country… Defending their own airspace could be enough.

  3. Craig Hoyle 27 July, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    Re your comment Negro Diente, I certainly don’t recall the RCAF being more active than some of the European F-16 operators over Libya, if we’re talking about weapons deployed! Yes, there are Hornets deployed to Europe, but I haven’t heard that they’ve been busy here.

  4. Yucel 2 August, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    Because “can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run” even sometimes can’t fly.

  5. Jeff Check 3 August, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    Everyone who can afford or is allowed to purchase wants F35. The only argument against it for Denmark and any other smaller country is cost.

    China wants one so bad its willing to build a blatant rip off copy from stolen plans, same with F22.

    If you have the money and are allowed to do so, you will field F35 and you would be a fool not to.

  6. Martin Bayliss 22 August, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    It is clear where flight global’s alegiance lies!

    It is quite clear the F35 is not multi-role in that it is outclassed as a fighter by all its contempories and the aircraft it replaces. All these countries who have a requirement for a new combat aircraft need a competent air to air fighter as well as an aircraft that can do strike. The F35 will never be a competent air to air fighter, it has the pure fighter credentials of the Sepecat Jaguar, a combat aircraft that never claimed to be a fighter.

    The apparent preference for the F35 in recent competitions can be put down purely to US diplomatic pressure and assimilated allies wishing to to be seen as on side in order to garner US support against regoinal threats. The actual abilities of the F35 as an aircraft are irrelevant.

    I have said before, and I say it again, the US will never fully replace the teen series fighters with the F35 as it is singulalrly incompetent as a fighter in air to air, and the US needs air to air supremacy. Expect new build F22′s and the start of a new US true single engined air superiority fighter program to replace the F16 in the next 5 years or so.

    The assimilated US allies need to keep this in mind before they purchase an expensive, flawed and soon to be replaced fighter from the US, particulalrly when some of those allies, particularly the UK, have a better home grown fighter with equal or better strike capabilities to the F35 available off the shelf.

    I predict in the 2015 UK defence review any purchase of the F35 will be limited to those needed for the two QE carriers (x48 or less) with the bulk of the UK’s future strike force being Typhoon and Taranis (+15 years) based, so expect tranche 3b of the UK Typhoon program to go ahead. I would even predict the cancellation of the F35B for the QE carriers with a Stobar variant of the Typhoon to replace it given the renewed interest in the Typhoon a small UK F35 order or possible cancellation would generate.

    • mike van 3 September, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

      The F-35 should have been cancelled long ago . Where they are now is they have a frame that continues to crack and how do you fix that without adding structural weight. Its already overweight , This a plane that is untrustworthy to fly look at the restrictions on G and the pushing back of the C 2 years due to fuselage cracks. They but the robust F-18 carrier nosewheels on it but it still cracked the frame. (The Canadian F-18 was chosen way back because it could land on rough icy runways in the Arctic) The F-35 could never land up there especially since Lockeed.quoted the F-35 A model Conventional landing and takeoff. The evaluation by the Ministry of Defence missed that one. Even their evaluation missed that it would cost an extra 80 million for the C model. Same goes for the B model because it can’t land because the final 2 ft the B bangs to the ground . Wouldn’t it have been hilarious if it caved in that’s what they were scared of. Mishubishu after cancelling the production for the f-35 they introduce a fighter that looks like the F-35 has twin engines and apparently contains Lochheed the full sensor,computers etc as the F-35. Interesting Eh.

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