Another member of the mighty NATO alliance is armed with the world's most powerful fighter jet. The Danish Defence Command has taken delivery of its first historic F-35 Lightning II joint strike jet fighter.
Danish and U.S. officials gathered at Air Force Plant 4 in Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this week to celebrate the rollout of the Royal Danish Air Force’s (RDAF) first state-of-the-art F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter.
The Danish side was represented by officials including Chief of Defense General Flemming Lentfer, New Fighter Program Director Henrik Lundstein, Commander of the Danish Ministry of Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation General Kim Jørgensen, and Chief of the Air Command Maj. General Anders Rex.
Also present at the event were representatives of Danish industry and the Danish embassy in the United States. The celebration was likewise joined by Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Texas Representative Marc Veasey, Performing the Duties of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Gregory Kausner, Defense Security Cooperation Agency Director Heidi Grant, and Program Executive Officer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office Lt. General Eric Fick.
“There is no defense platform in the 21st century that can better support our allies and friends and ensure the security and safety of all Danish citizens,” said Taiclet during his remarks. “The F-35 provides allied nations with unrivaled capabilities to deter far-reaching and complex threats. With its combination of advanced stealth, speed, agility, and connectivity, the F-35 will strengthen the effectiveness of every branch of the Armed Forces of Denmark,” he added. Alluding to the latest round of great-power competition in the Arctic, Taiclet added the F-35 will be “the cornerstone for joint operations with NATO and its allies in order to protect and secure Northern Europe, and more importantly now than ever, the Arctic region as well.”
Representative Veasy spoke next, reiterating the F-35 acquisition as a symbol U.S.-Danish friendship while also stressing the importance of the F-35 program as a driver of economic activity. “The F-35 is the largest defense contract in the state of Texas, in the United States, and the world,” Veasy noted. “In Texas, we have over 110 suppliers working on the F-35, resulting in over 55,000 direct and indirect jobs worth over 10 billion dollars to our state’s economy.”
Veasy’s remarks were followed by a promotional video highlighting the cooperation between Lockheed Martin, Danish defense companies, and the Danish government that led to the project’s success, as well as a brief remote appearance by Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen.
General and the commander of United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Jeffrey Harrigian took the stage next. “As senior leaders, our sacred duty is to ensure that if we send our daughters and sons into combat, they will have nothing but the best.” He said. “And this,” he added, turning to the static F-35 displayed behind him, “is the best.” Another promotional clip followed Harrigian’s address, showing footage of Denmark’s first F-35. General Kim Jørgensen then described the history leading up to Denmark’s decision to acquire the F-35. “In 2016, we did choose the F-35 and Lockheed Martin, and today I am proud to be the commander of the Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation which delivers this unique and powerful jet to the Danish Armed Forces,” he stated. Several other high-placed Danish officials took to the stage to reiterate Jørgensen’s remarks, as the ceremony drew to a close with a final clip highlighting the F-35’s capabilities and the ways in which the fighter will bolster Danish air power.
Denmark plans to procure twenty-seven F-35A jet fighters between 2021 and 2026.
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the national interest.