NATO member-state Denmark officially became the latest operator of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting II — the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. On Sunday, Denmark celebrated the arrival of the first four permanently based fifth-generation stealth aircraft at Skrydstrup Air Base.
Lockheed Martin officially handed over the certificate of ownership of Denmark’s F-35s to the Danish Ministry of Defense Acquisition and Logistics Organization, during a ceremony that saw more than 450 Danish and allied government, military, and industry leaders turn out. More than 10,000 local citizens participated in the Royal Danish Air Force’s public open house.
The four aircraft arrived at the Danish base earlier in September. The public was invited last weekend to learn more about the F-35’s mission for Denmark and was able to witness the F-35 and F-16 in a flight display.
Denmark has long been a key partner in the F-35 program, joining in 2002 during the System Development and Demonstration phase and strategically influencing technical elements of the program.
The Royal Danish Air Force also contributed a Danish F-16 to the Joint Strike Fighter 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, where it served as a chase plane for the F-35 Development, Test & Evaluation program. Danish industry has also contributed to F-35 production, development, and sustainment activities and is now building parts and components for each of the projected 3,100-plus aircraft to be manufactured, Lockheed Martin announced.
“This milestone event is the realization of the vision, foresight and strategic investment Denmark made more than a decade ago. We expect that the F-35 will play a crucial role in 21st century security missions for Denmark, delivering unmatched 5th Generation capability, connectivity and interoperability,” said Greg Ulmer, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “The F-35 integrates joint forces, providing an unparalleled network effect across allied forces and significantly strengthening alliance-based deterrence across all domains.”
NATO Stronger Than Ever
The four F-35s that arrived at Skrydstrup Air Base are part of the 10 Lightning IIs that Denmark has purchased. The remaining six stealth fighters are currently stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where Danish pilots and maintainers are training.
Copenhagen has announced plans to purchase twenty-seven F-35 aircraft in total. Denmark is the tenth country and the fifth European NATO member-state to operate the F-35 from its home soil.
According to Lockheed Martin, by the mid-2030s, more than 600 F-35s will be stationed on the European continent across NATO member bases and Switzerland. NATO members in the F-35 program include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Last week, the Czech Republic and Romania each announced plans to acquire a significant number of F-35 Lightning II aircraft as well.
With the addition of Skrydstrup, F-35s are now operating from 31 bases worldwide. To date, Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 975 F-35s and trained more than 2,180 pilots and 15,000 maintainers, and the F-35 fleet has logged 721,430 cumulative flight hours.
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A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.