This Week’s Editorial: More important than ever

Back in 1980, a big decision was made when the Danish government signed a contract to buy 40 F16 fighter jets – the backbone of the air force ever since.

Cold, warm, cold
Since then these jets have been modified several times, whether it be modern navigational systems or weaponry, so it’s inaccurate to call them as outdated contraptions. Who would drive a 35-year-old car you might ask, but the F16s have been reliable workhorses, and now they due a replacement.

In 1980, the Cold War was very much a fixture. On most days the F16s were scrambled from Skrydstrup airbase to intercept Soviet fighters on their daily exercise from Leningrad towards Bornholm, where they routinely waved at our F16 pilots and returned home.

It was unkown if someday they would not turn and minutes later be able to neutralise the Danish air defence. To some extent, the Russians continue to do this today.

Years in the planning
Some 12 years ago, the Danish government made an agreement with Lockheed-Martin to co-develop the F35 Joint Fight Striker, and now the government with the support of other parties has made up its mind to buy 27 F35A JFS.

The delivery date is still not confirmed as the final product has not yet been tested. The price is high – even without the currency risk. A lot of compensatory trade will be negotiated over the ensuring years, so the final price remains undecided.

Denmark’s recent record negotiating big contracts is far from convincing. Danish rail, for example, has for more than five years been keeping a number of high-speed diesel trains in stock, and now they are considering just letting them rust on the tracks. IT projects have been derailed, bringing SKAT, the tax office, to its knees. And the police and hospital systems are likewise in jeopardy.

We are crossing our fingers that the F35 project isn’t likewise perilous.

Time for action
The Cold War is over and the defence of our national integrity is no longer on the agenda. Some 35 years ago we did not anticipate that we would be allocating jet fighters to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, but it happened. If we are to stem the disorder in the Middle East and Africa, we need the planes to support local governments from subversive powers in the likes of Syria, Libya and Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

Little did we know in 1980 that the Cold War was almost over, and little do we know what the future would demand from us. But if we want to maintain a robust society and help less fortunate regimes to achieve stability and wealth and avoid exacerbating the migration tragedy of which we have to this day only seen little but more than enough – we need to be able to supply a helping wing.

So just in case, let’s get some F35 Joint Fight Strikers.