Boeing is stepping up its campaign to offer the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to Denmark, with two US Navy examples scheduled to visit Copenhagen in early February.
"Denmark is a particular area of focus early this year," says Tom Bell, head of business development for Boeing Military Aircraft. "We want to help the Danish establishment understand that the Super Hornet represents a fantastic opportunity for recapitalisation."
A defence commission is expected to deliver a document by late March outlining the Danish military's next five-year plan, and Bell says that while "this won't recommend fighter A, B or C", it could identify "what any new capabilities should be in a new aircraft".
Separately, Denmark's Defence Command is assessing its possible next-generation fighter solutions, with the Super Hornet having last year been added to a list already including Lockheed's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Saab's Gripen NG. This process is likely to conclude in the second quarter of this year, says Bell, potentially leading to a recommendation on its future fighter options by mid-year.
Despite Boeing's late inclusion in the process, Bell says "it is our true belief that this competition is open and fair, and that the Danish government and ministry of defence plan to make up their minds on true facts". Several Danish pilots flew the Block II Super Hornet at NAS Oceana in Virginia last October as part of an initial assessment of the type's multirole capabilities, Boeing adds.
A pair of USN-owned two-seat F/A-18Fs are scheduled to land at Copenhagen airport on 3 February for an overnight stop en route to participating in the Aero India 2009 exhibition in Bangalore. Their presence will underline a campaign that has also recently seen Boeing Integrated Defense Systems president Jim Albaugh make repeat visits to Denmark.
The Netherlands and Norway both recently made recommendations to reject the offer of a Gripen NG acquisition in favour of maintaining their involvement in the JSF programme. Denmark is also a participant in the F-35's system development and demonstration phase, and has previously outlined plans to acquire 48 of the aircraft to be delivered between 2016 and 2021.
The Indian defence ministry has meanwhile informed Boeing that it will discuss the detailed evaluation plan for its 126-aircraft medium multirole combat aircraft competition during the 11-15 February Aero India show. The Super Hornet faces competition from the F-16 and Gripen, plus the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and RSK MiG-35.
Indian air force chief Air Chief Marshal F H Major recently said that flight trials of the candidate systems could take place as early as April-May this year.