First Danish F-35 has been completed, and its flight is planning for spring
COPENHAGEN, (BM) – Lockheed Martin has announced the completion of the first F-35A Lightning II construction for the Danish Air Force, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24. In early January, the machine left the final assembly hall in Fort Worth, Texas, and towed away to begin ground trials. The first flight is scheduling for the spring.
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A year ago, in early January 2020, Lockheed Martin announced the construction of this F-35 aircraft with the serial number AP-01. After admission to the Kingdom of Denmark’s air force, the aircraft will carry the tactical markings L-001. Although the machine is to be officially commissioned for service at Flyvevåbnet [Danish Air Force] in April, it will not leave the US and will be used to train Danish pilots at the US Air Force Luke base in Arizona, at least until 2023.
Denmark receives 27 F-35A multipurpose aircraft, the first 4 to deliver following the contract in 2021. Another six fighter jets should have in 2022. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Denmark can expect slight shifts in these plans. The agreement concluded in 2016 was for USD 2.6 billion and covered 27 machines and four simulators with the necessary infrastructure, spare parts, operation support, and training. The new F-35 aircraft will replace the decades-old F-16AM / BM, the decommissioning of which schedule to start in 2022, but Denmark may slightly extend it.
At first, Denmark had doubts
“Serious technical problems remain with the new F-35 fighter jet,” wrote last year in May the Danish news agency Arbejderen.
“After several years of development and testing, the system is not functioning properly. Inaccurate and lack of data has led ALIS (the fighter aircraft’s I.T. system, ed.) to keep aircraft on the ground,” writes the U.S. National Audit Office, among others.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO], planes are only “safe” 59.5 percent of the time, and GAO reports of planes going on the wings. However, the systems warn of serious errors.
As of September last year, there were 4700 deficiencies reported in the fighter aircraft’s I.T. system – of which 34 percent identified in 2017 or earlier. More than a fifth (22 percent) of reports are considered critical, the Norwegian media ABC News reports.
The U.S. National Audit Office report has sparked debate in Norway, which has already received six F-35 fighter jets. According to the Auditor-General’s Office, aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s production does not meet reliable aircraft’s quality requirements.
“Specifically, only about 3,000 of them over 10,000 key processes in aircraft production meet the predefined design standards needed to ensure product quality. Moreover, the over 500 aircraft delivered do not meet the program’s reliability and maintenance goals,” GAO writes. The U.S. arms company Lockheed Martin began producing the first parts of the new Danish F-35 fighter aircraft in January.
Costs are rising
Last year, the Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen delivered his annual report on the new fighter jet procurement to the Danish Parliament. All these show that the number of the costs associated with acquiring the latest fighter jet increases more than expected.
“We should note that the latest reported operating cost estimates from the US F-35 program show an increasing trend,” writes the Secretary of Defense, among others.
Apart from the fact that the fighter’s IT system is full of errors and is outdated and replacing needed, the expansion of Flyvestation Skrydstrup will be almost twice as expensive as expected. This conclusion is partly because the flight station must meet several strict requirements before the fighter planes are allowed to land. Also, it costs far more money than expected to dampen the fighter aircraft’s noise nuisance.
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