Denmark’s national audit agency has revealed serious shortcomings in the decision-making process and calculations used as the basis for Denmark’s purchase of 27 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
Rigsrevisionen, an independent parliamentary audit agency, reached its findings just before the government was set to make a final decision on the purchase of the aircraft, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported earlier this week.
The proposed new aircraft may not be able to fulfil the tasks the government informed parliament they are capable of, according to the report by the agency.
Denmark’s Ministry of Defence has, according to Rigsrevisionen, been too optimistic in its estimates of what the F35 fighters are capable of in terms of flight hours.
What would already represent Denmark’s all-time most expensive state purchase may also be more expensive than the agreed 66 billion kroner (8.8 billion euros) price, concludes the agency.
Rasmus Jarlov, defence spokesperson with the Conservative party, which is part of Denmark’s coalition government, told Jyllands-Posten he considered it a “huge problem” that incorrect assessments of this nature were possible.
Ole Wæver, a professor in international politics at the University of Copenhagen, told Jyllands-Posten that Denmark may now be forced to buy more aircraft or reduce the number of assignments given, while defence expert Peter Viggo Jakobsen of the Royal Danish Defence College (Forsvarsakademiet) criticised the ministry for “calculating backwards”, resulting in the F35 being chosen ahead of two competitors.
Denmark’s state auditors have, on the basis of the Rigsrevision report, now asked the Ministry of Defence to carry out new risk assessments.
Minister of Defence Claus Hjort Frederiksen said on Thursday that the report would have no effect on the government’s plans to purchase the aircraft.
“We naturally listen to Rigsrevisionen’s calculations, but I believe our figures have a very solid basis, and I cannot see how we cannot fulfil them,” Frederiksen said.
Frederiksen said that he backed the Ministry of Defence assessment that the aircraft would be able to fly the 250 hours per year required of them -- a figure that could rise with international missions and Denmark's Nato commitments -- citing an “equivalent American unit” as evidence of this.
The minister did not name the unit due to confidentiality, he said.
Norway and the Netherlands have seen markedly lower flying hours from the same type of aircraft, reports Ritzau.
Click here for a summary of the Audit Court’s report, in English