12:56 GMT +322 September 2019
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    Winged Secrecy: Warplanes Undermining Danish Democracy

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    Last week, Denmark finally brought its air force update campaign to an end. After ten years of deliberations, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was chosen over both the Airbus Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing Super Hornet.

    Despite the government's initial plans to buy 48 jets, ultimately they settled on 30. This decision worth billions of dollars has proven to be highly controversial and stirred a wave of criticism, with the Red-Green Alliance and the Alternative opposition parties being among the most vocal critics, citing growing problems in the country's welfare sector as the reason why Denmark should abstain from buying new warplanes altogether.

    The opposition voiced their angry concerns that the new jet fighter deal was conducted in pure secrecy and was undemocratic, in a recent joint article. Besides, both the government and the parties to the agreement only discussed which model to choose and turned a deaf ear to whether new fighter jets were needed altogether.

    Other than being expensive, the F-35 is reported to have major technical problems, which could magnify its already extravagant cost.

    "The deal has been arranged for roughly 10 years, yet the process has been hermetically sealed, with the emerging information being incredibly scarce, despite numerous experts, pilots and high-ranking army staff being questioned. Negotiations have taken place behind closed doors at remote offices in the Ministry of Defense," Eva Flyvholm and Rene Gade maintain in the article published in Politiken.

    F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
    © REUTERS / US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/Handout
    According to the government, the expenditure shall be covered by the Armed Forces' own budget, yet Denmark's defense budget has not been established after 2017. It is unlikely that such a large additional expense can be feasible without either budget increases or serious consequences for the rest of the economy.

    "We are facing the greatest public procurement in Denmark's history, but the parties to the agreement will not give a direct answer how the fighter jet deal is to be financed. This is a very irresponsible way to use our common tax money. Such an obscurity does not benefit our democracy," Eva Flyvholm and Rene Gade conclude, arguing that is yet not too late to reconsider.

    An earlier assessment from NATO dissuaded Denmark from the fighter jet deal worth up to 4.5 billion dollars according to various estimates.

    "The purchase of new fighter aircraft and the cost of keeping them in the air will be a threat to both the Danish economy and the rest of the Danish defense," the NATO report said in January this year.

    Tags:
    democracy, Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, NATO, Scandinavia, Denmark
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