American military officials and other dignitaries on Wednesday delivered the first F-35 stealth fighter jet to the nation of Denmark, a move that signals a new chapter in the long history between the NATO allies.
With horns from the Prince of Denmark Air Force Band providing a musical backdrop, the F-35A Lightning II was presented to the Royal Danish Air Force during the ceremony at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, where the aircraft was built.
In all, Denmark is expected to receive 27 of the cutting-edge aircraft in the coming years.
“With the new F-35 fighter jets we will increase our ability to protect Denmark, our region,” Trine Bramsen, Danish Minister of Defense, said in a statement just before the ceremony began. “And wherever necessary as we have done before — side by side with the U.S. and other allies — the F-35s will be at the absolute center for the Danish Defense in the coming decades.”
Denmark has a long history with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, having flown the F-16 aircraft for years.
And, the northern European country is playing a role in the development of the F-35 program. Two Danish companies, Terma A/S and Multicut A/S, are manufacturing some of the parts used in the aircraft, including composites, horizontal tail edges, pylons, radar components and software.
The F-35A version is designed for conventional runways, and is the most common version of the aircraft sold to U.S. allies. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics also makes an F-35B, which can take off and land like a helicopter and is favored by the Marines as well as the United Kingdom and Italy, and the F-35C, which is built for aircraft carrier runways and is operated by the U.S. Navy.
The first F-35 delivered to Denmark will be flown to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where Danish pilots and mechanics will begin their training.
“The F-35 will ensure Denmark’s sovereignty and air dominance, enhance its multi-domain and network-based coalition operations, and play a pivotal role in keeping the Arctic a secure and stable region,” said Greg Ulmer, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.