The US defense company Cubic Defense Systems has published advanced plans to establish a major training and command center for all northern European and Scandinavian F-35 combat aircraft, the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported.
According to Cubic head Mike Knowles, which in collaboration with the US Department of Defense and the Pentagon is responsible for the development of training programs for F-35 combat aircraft, a cooperation agreement has already been signed with the Haderslev municipality in the region of southern Denmark. The new training center is planned to be housed at Skrydstrup air station, which currently hosts Denmark's ageing fleet of F-16s, which are to be replaced by 27 F-35s to the tune of DKK 20 billion ($3.2 billion).
At Skrydstrup, combat aircraft and pilots from several countries will congregate in a training and simulation environment. Skrydstrup is expected to host up to 80 combat aircraft from the UK, Holland, Norway, Poland and others — all participating in advanced NATO air drills over the North Sea.
According to Cubic director Mike Knowles, Denmark will get a lot of jobs out of the agreement. Also, running such an important facility on Danish soil would boost the Scandinavian country to a more prominent position within NATO.
Haderslev mayor Hans Peter Geil called the agreement a "milestone" that can help pave the way for new jobs and growth. While the F-35 fighter jets, which have also been slammed for extensive cost overruns, have a history of being excessively noisy, Geil specifically promised the residents that the future air drills wouldn't affect the level of noise in the area. The Danish Defense Ministry stressed that the government was optimistic about the plans and promised that environmental considerations would be included in the final draft of the agreement.
The idea of a major pan-European F-35 training center was even hailed by defense expert and Defense Academy lecturer Peter Viggo Jakobsen, who previously voiced his opposition to the project.
By contrast, Red-Green Alliance defense spokesperson Eva Flyvholm expressed her skepticism.
"I honestly find it hard to believe that [the training center] won't bother the citizens along the west coast of Denmark when we suddenly get all of Northern Europe's F-35 fleets soaring over Danish waters," Flyvholm said.
Cubic has 9,000 employees worldwide and has been collaborating with the Pentagon since the Vietnam War.
Fighter Wing Skrydstrup is an air base of the Royal Danish Air Force situated in southern Jutland. As of today, it is home to 30 F-16 fighters as well as support aircraft. The air base has three runways totaling 3,500 meters and employs about 1,000 people. The air base was originally constructed during the Nazi German occupation of Denmark in 1943.