Denmark has officially decided to defer its choice of a fighter aircraft to replace the F-16. The country had been expected to select a winner this year, with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as leading candidates. (The Saab Gripen NG is regarded as an outsider.) The decision will not now be taken until 2014, with aircraft not being delivered until 2018.
The move follows a recommendation by the defense ministry that the lifetime of the F-16 can be extended by two to four years, but it is also driven by concern over committing to JSF before the costs can be seen to have stabilized.
For the JSF, the move eliminates about 16 aircraft from FY2011-15 production plans - not a huge problem in itself, but a sign of trouble if other partners do the same.
From Boeing’s viewpoint, the decision raises a problem in that the US currently plans to acquire its last Super Hornets in FY2013, with the result that the line will be spooling down by the time Denmark is due to take a decision. However, Boeing and its congressional allies are strongly advocating a further 124-aircraft multi-year purchase.