COPENHAGEN, (BM) – Next year, the first new Danish F-35 fighter aircraft will be ready. But serious technical problems remain with the new fighter aircraft, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Danish news agency Arbejderen.
This also was stated in the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) latest report on the development of the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) fighter aircraft.
“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 IT system, ed.) to keep aircraft on the ground,” writes the US National Audit Office among others.
The report concludes that there have been eight years of delays in developing the software for the F-35 aircraft and that the IT system is based on up to 15 years of knowledge.
It has serious consequences for the aircraft. In fact, fighter jets have only been fully operational for 31.6 percent of the time, GAO concludes.
According to the GAO, planes are only “safe” 59.5 percent of the time, and GAO reports of planes going on the wings, although the systems warn of serious errors.
As of September last year, there were 4700 deficiencies reported in the fighter aircraft’s IT system – of which 34 percent were already identified in 2017 or earlier. More than a fifth (22 percent) of reports are considered critical, the Norwegian media ABC News reports.
The report from the US National Audit Office has sparked debate in Norway, which has already received six F-35 fighter jets.
According to the Office of the Auditor General, aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s production does not meet the quality requirements set for reliable aircraft.
“Specifically, only about 3,000 of the 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 US arms company Lockheed Martin began producing the first parts of the new Danish F-35 fighter aircraft in January. The first Danish fighter planes are scheduled to be delivered to Luke Air Force Base in the USA, where the Danish pilots will be trained to fly the new fighter aircraft.
In 2016, a majority of the Parliament (the former Left government, the Social Democracy, the Danish People’s Party, the Liberal Alliance and the Radical Left) agreed to buy 27 pieces at a cost of a total of DKK 56 billion for procurement and operations.
The technical problems have caused the fighter aircraft to be upgraded with a new software system. This means that costs are rising.
Costs are rising
Defense Minister Trine Bramsen has just delivered his annual report on the procurement of the new fighter aircraft to the Danish Parliament.
This shows that a number of the costs associated with the acquisition of the new fighter aircraft are increasing more than expected.
“It should be noted 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 needs to be replaced, the expansion of Flyvestation Skrydstrup will be almost twice as expensive as expected. This is partly due to the fact that the flight station must meet a number of strict requirements before the fighter planes are allowed to land. In addition, it costs far more money than expected to try to dampen the noise nuisance of the fighter aircraft.
The Minister of Defense expects the price of the construction project to be DKK 1.1 billion [$161 million] against the original DKK 650 million [$96 million].
This is “a large and complicated construction, where very specific requirements for the facilities and safety of F-35 fighter aircraft apply, and where most of the contracts have not yet been concluded. The construction project is therefore subject to uncertainty. noise compensation, which is expected to amount to DKK 250 million,” [$37 million] writes the Minister of Defense.
On the other hand, it has been found that the fighter aircraft frame is getting cheaper and that the fighter factory is now starting to benefit from economies of scale because many allied countries have ordered the fighter aircraft. Therefore, the total cost of the fighter jets will not rise, the defense minister predicts.
When the expansion of Skrydstrup Flight Station is completed in 2023, the first F-35 fighter aircraft will land in Denmark. The last fighter aircraft are expected to be delivered to Denmark in 2026.
The Parliament is just now in the process of considering a 61-page bill from the Minister of Defense, which will give green light to expand the Skrydstrup flight station so that it meets the new requirements.
The United States has set a number of requirements for how Air Force Skrydstrup should be set up before the new Joint Strike Fighter fighter jets are allowed to land in Denmark.
New fighter planes are waning more
It’s not just the costs that are rising. So does the CO2 emissions.
The new F-35 fighter planes are significantly lower than the current F-16 fighter aircraft.
The F-35 fighter jets use 60 percent more fuel and emit 60 percent more CO2 per average flight hour than the up to 45-year-old F-16 aircraft that the F-35 aircraft must replace.
This is reported by the Norwegian Ministry of Defense to the Parliament. Norway received the first F-35 aircraft in 2018 and, like Denmark, has F-16 aircraft.
A broad political majority has otherwise decided that by 2030, Denmark must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent. Defense Minister Trine Bramsen (S) has stated on several occasions that the Defense must participate in this work.
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