Swedes Snub Danish Search for F-35 Alternative

 - July 24, 2014, 7:38 AM
Boeing demonstrated the F/A-18 Super Hornet to Denmark before the aircraft appeared at the Farnborough show last week. (Photo: David McIntosh)

The Swedish defence export agency FXM announced that the Saab Gripen will not be entered for Denmark’s new fighter competition. Denmark has issued an 800-page “Request for Binding Information” (RBI) on alternatives to the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter; it is one of two international F-35 partners that has not yet committed to the program. The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon are the other contenders in Denmark.

The Swedes have evidently decided that the Danish requirement is weighted in favor of the F-35. The decision follows “a comprehensive assessment that the state and the industry have made together,” according to FXM director-general Ulf Hammarström. Sweden has bitter experience with offering the Gripen to a country that previously signed up as an F-35 international partner, namely Norway in 2008-09. Relations between the two neighbors soured for a time, as Sweden accused Norway of an unfair evaluation.

Boeing recently bailed two F/A-18 Super Hornets from the U.S. Navy and demonstrated them in Denmark, before their recent appearances at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and the Farnborough International Airshow. In a comprehensive briefing at Farnborough, Capt. Frank Morley, the Navy’s program manager for the Super Hornet and the EF-18G Growler, said that “these airplanes will be around until 2035-plus.” He described a comprehensive upgrade plan for the types that is mostly already funded by the U.S. Navy and is “more than a PowerPoint slide; it’s a whole notebook,” he claimed.

Eurofighter delivered its proposal to Denmark on July 21. The consortium said that the Typhoon is combat proven and 100 percent integrated within NATO. “A partnership within the Eurofighter community exists for the entire life of the aircraft, which will be the next 40 to 50 years. This would allow Denmark to have a modern, well equipped combat aircraft that can perform all necessary tasks and missions,” the consortium added.