Construction on First Danish F-35 Begins

On January 27, Lockheed Martin announced that construction of the first F-35A for the Royal Danish Air Force had begun, following the arrival of the first panels of the aircraft’s front fuselage at Lockheed’s Fort Worth plant. The F-35A, tail number L-001, is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, and will be delivered to the multinational F-35 training fleet at Luke Air Force Base.

The arrival of the panels was witnessed by eight Lockheed Martin interns present at the Fort Worth plant. The interns are part of a special training program sponsored by Terma (a major strategic supplier of components of the F-35), and will be at Fort Worth until June.

The Lockheed Martin interns with L-001’s front fuselage. Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin

The Danish Defence Minister, Trine Bramsen, described the beginning of construction as a “landmark”, even if the current state of the airframe “may not look like much”.

The Danish government announced in 2016 that they would be purchasing 27 F-35As to replace the Royal Danish Air Force’s current fleet of F-16A MLUs. Denmark has been a Level 3 participant in the F-35 program since 2002, helping to shape technical capabilities of the aircraft during the system development and demonstration phrase.

Terna graphic of F-35 components made by the company.

Several Danish companies including Terma and Multicut (makers of aluminum components such as brackets and fittings for the F-35) already participate in the F-35 program, producing parts used in every F-35 built. Lockheed Martin states that these companies will be engaged throughout the entirety of the F-35’s service life with all of its operators, opening up valuable opportunities to grow business and acquire experience with advanced technologies for Danish industry.

Royal Danish Air Force video of F-35 test support operations

The Royal Danish Air Force plans for L-001 to be delivered to Luke Air Force Base in 2021, with the first F-35A deliveries to bases in Denmark to take place by 2022. Deliveries of the F-35As are planned to continue through 2026, with full operational capacity expected to be reached in 2027.