Denmark’s Defense Ministry recommended the purchase of 27 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corp., at a cost of about 20 billion kroner ($3 billion), to replace the fleet of old F-16s, also manufactured by the U.S. defense giant. However, the Nordic country’s parliament still needs to approve the recommendation before it is final.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen — who heads a minority government — and Defense Minister Peter Christensen made the announcement. Rasmussen said the new F-35s would allow Denmark to “monitor our airspace and repel violations at home and we can work to stop wars and conflicts abroad spreading and affecting us.”
Highlighting Russia, the Middle East and North Africa as areas of concern, Rasmussen said that a time when the “world security map has changed, producing new threats closer to Europe and Denmark,” the country needed to upgrade its fleet so it could “look out for our country and our values and we need to do it at home and abroad.”
The full cost of buying and maintaining the planes was expected to be about 56 billion kroner, Christensen said. Deliveries will start in 2021 and the fleet is expected to be fully operational by 2027.
However, the deal could be disapproved by the parliament, where the opposition has been calling for lower spending, even on modernizing the country’s air force.
In a poll published Thursday by local online newspaper Altinget, 59 percent of Danes polled were against the purchase of the new fighter aircraft.
Lockheed Martin won a $1.27 billion contract from the U.S. Department of Defense earlier this month. Its stock closed 1.29 percent higher on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.