The Danish Defense Ministry's unverified claims about the noise levels of the future backbone of the Scandinavian country's air force may add extra costs to the divisive multi-billion krone purchase, experts suggest.
Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen of the ruling Liberal Party has misled the Danish parliament in matters pertaining to the noise levels of the F-35 fighters before allocating billions for the procurement of the fifth generation US combat jets, two experts claimed in an interview with the Jyllands-Posten daily. (See unofficial translation below—Ed.)
According to Jyllands-Posten, Frederiksen failed to inform the parliament about problems with measures to ensure that the residents in the vicinity of Skrydstrup air base in South Jutland won't be affected by the noise.
Furthermore, the Danish Defense Ministry maintained that changing the aircraft's engines could reduce the noise levels below what was claimed by the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. Despite the fact that the Danish calculations were never approved by the US Development Office for the F-35 (JPO), the Danish Parliament's Finance Committee allocated over DKK 16 billion for the procurement of the new fighter jets in December 2017.
"Had there been the slightest doubt about the figures, they should have been submitted to parliament," Sten Bønsing, a professor of administrative law at Aarhus University told Jyllands-Posten, citing "massive political interest" in the matter. According to him, the government misled the parliament.
Ole Wæver, a professor of international politics at the University of Copenhagen, found it "very problematic" that the Defense Ministry had withheld critical data about noise levels, stressing that the Danish calculations were based on overoptimistic assumptions and a distortion of the figures.
"There is no excuse for failing to establishing the best possible decision base for the parliament," Wæver said, stressing that willfully removing information deemed uncomfortable was unacceptable.
Jørgen Albæk Jensen, a professor of administrative law at Aalborg University, argued that it was an aggravating circumstance that several parties (most notably, the Red-Green Alliance) expressed their direct concern for the noise levels.
Jyllands-Posten also pointed out that the government also withheld a critical report about F-35 noise levels during the two-year tenure of Frederiksen's predecessor and party colleague Peter Christensen. Should Frederiksen turn out to have proceeded in the same fashion, the case should be considered even more serious, Socialist People's Party defense rapporteur Holger Nielsen ventured.
"Not telling the whole truth and withholding information is completely unsatisfactory and completely unacceptable", Nielsen said, urging the Danish government to quit "Christmas games."
The Defense Ministry rejected having withheld the noise data for the parliament. According to the Defense Ministry, the Danish government was at that time unaware that "the optimized flight profiles couldn't be used under Danish conditions," which was only discovered during later tests.
The acquisition of 27 F-35 fighter jets is estimated to become the largest-ever state purchase in the history of Denmark, with the lifelong costs associated with the aircraft expected to set the Danish state coffers back a whopping DKK 66 billion ($10 billion).