Type Selection of Denmark’s New Fighter Aircraft: Evaluations of Eurofighter, Joint Strike Fighter and Super Hornet
(Source: Danish Ministry of Defence; issued May 12, 2016)

The objective of this basis for decision is to present the results of the New Fighter Program’s evaluation of the three fighter candidates included in the Danish fighter aircraft selection process.

The Danish Defence Agreement 2013-2017 requires the establishment of the best possible basis for a political decision on fighter aircraft type selection.

The rationale behind the focus on new fighters in the defence agreement is partly an identification of a Danish security policy need for fighter aircrafts and partly a recognition of the fact that the current Danish F-16 fighter aircrafts are nearing the end of their lifespan.

In 2020, the Danish F-16 will have been flying for approximately 40 years and there will be significant operational, technical and economic challenges associated with their continued use.

Fighter aircraft candidates

The three fighter candidates in the Danish fighter aircraft selection process are:

• The Eurofighter, developed in a partnership between the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain. The primary manufacturer behind the Eurofighter is the European company Airbus. The German Federal Ministry of Defence is the supplier of the aircraft on behalf of Germany.

• The F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, developed in a collaboration between nine partner countries (the USA, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Canada). The primary manufacturer behind the Joint Strike Fighter is the American company Lockheed Martin. The Joint Strike Fighter Program Office is the supplier of the aircraft on behalf of the United States.

• The F/A-18F Super Hornet, developed in the USA. The primary manufacturer behind the Super Hornet is the American company Boeing. The U.S. Navy International Programs Office is the supplier of the aircraft on behalf of the United States.

Evaluation areas and frames

In order to provide the best possible basis for a political decision on the fighter aircraft type selection, the three candidates have been evaluated within four specific areas:

• Strategic aspects: the ability of the candidates to support or fulfil overarching Danish defence and security policy objectives, including the potential for cooperation with other countries.

• Military aspects: the ability of the candidates to successfully conduct fighter missions (mission effectiveness), the candidates’ survivability, opportunities for keeping the aircraft operational and technically relevant within its expected lifespan (future development) as well as the risks associated with each candidate that cannot be economically quantified (candidate risk).

• Economic aspects: the estimated life cycle costs of the candidates, including costs associated with procurement, ongoing operations and sustainment as well as quantifiable risks.

• Industrial aspects: the ability of the candidates to support significant Danish security interests through industrial cooperation with the Danish defence industry.

The evaluations are based on an operational period of 30 years for the new fighter aircrafts (2020-2049). Additionally, the evaluations have assumed a continuation of the current tasks and level of ambition of the Danish F-16 fighter capability. This means that the point of departure has been that a future Danish fighter aircraft capability must be able to continue to conduct:

• National tasks involved with maintaining a permanent quick reaction alert capability which can perform tasks involving surveillance and defending sovereignty and which can be scrambled with extremely short notice. Additionally, other national tasks such as supporting the Danish national police and other public authorities.

• International operations and NATO’s collective defence tasks with a fighter contribution on high alert state in which four fighters can be deployed for a period of up to 12 months every third year. In addition, periodic fighter contributions to NATO Air Policing missions.

The primary underlying basis of information has been the responses to the request for information, the so-called ‘Request for Binding Information’ (RBI), which was sent out to the candidates on 10 April 2014. At the time of the resumption of the fighter aircraft type selection process, the Swedish fighter Gripen was also a candidate.

However, the Gripen withdrew from the process when the Swedish authorities decided not to respond to the RBI. The New Fighter Program received responses from the suppliers of the Eurofighter, the Joint Strike Fighter and the Super Hornet on 21 July 2014.

In order to ensure the validity of the information in the RBI responses, the responses to each of the approximately 950 questions in the RBI have been carefully reviewed in a validation process. In cases where the New Fighter Program uncovered insufficiencies, unresolved issues or possible risks of misunderstandings, a validation strategy has been implemented at three levels:

• Forwarding clarifying questions to the suppliers within each area of evaluation (so called ’Request for Clarification’ (RFC)).

• Clarifying dialogue in the form of, for example, briefings or information updates by suppliers or the primary manufacturers with a view to understanding the context in which the responses were given or in order to ensure an understanding of any correlations and assumptions which were not clearly set out in the original responses.

• Using reference data, including information on the F-16 fighters.

In the strategic evaluation, the New Fighter Program did not make use of the RBI because Danish defence and security policy interests cannot be assessed on the basis of information from suppliers. Instead, the point of departure has been, among others, Danish and other countries’ policy papers as well as countries’ reporting to NATO.

Evaluation methods

The New Fighter Program has developed distinct evaluation strategies and models for each evaluation area. The evaluation models were developed prior to sending out the RBI. In the models, there is a detailed description of how the individual evaluations were to be conducted, including the order in which each step of the process was to be completed.

The evaluations of the strategic, military and industrial areas have been largely based on qualitative analyses and evaluations. In these areas, the New Fighter Program has made use of various expert panels, which have ultimately evaluated and ranked the candidates.

The participating experts have represented a broad range of competencies and experience related to the specific evaluation areas. The expert panels have been conducted according to the Delphi method which focuses on improving the quality of the expert evaluations through a structured and documented process of repeated rounds of voting and discussions.

In contrast, the evaluation of the economic aspects has been based on a quantitative approach. In this regard, a dynamic economic model was used which was developed by the New Fighter Program in cooperation with Deloitte. This model was used to calculate the estimated life cycle costs of the candidates.

External quality assurance

In order to ensure external and independent control, external quality assurance has been conducted of the products prepared by the New Fighter Program in developing this basis for decision. Quality assurance has been carried out by Danish experts from Deloitte in cooperation with international experts from RAND Europe assisted by QinetiQ and Vorderman Consultancy. As Deloitte was involved in developing the economic model, the quality control of the evaluation of the economic aspects was undertaken by RAND Europe.

Evaluation results

Table 0.1 (See top of page—Ed.) lists the final ranking for the candidates within each of the evaluation areas.

Click here for the full Executive Summary (9 PDF pages) on the Danish MoD website.


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