Denmark orders electric aircraft for training role

Denmark has become the first country in the world to procure an electric aircraft for operational use within its armed forces.

The nation’s Forsvarsministeriet (MOD, Ministry of Defence) revealed on June 3 that it will take delivery of an initial batch of two Pipistrel Velis Electro single-engine, electric-powered, twin-seat light aircraft later this year. Through operational testing, the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) will determine the potential of the electric platform over a two-year trial period.

Pipistrel Velis Electro in Danish AF colours [Forsvarsministeriet]
An artist’s impression of the Pipistrel Velis Electro as it will look in Royal Danish Air Force colours. Forsvarsministeriet

This move comes as part of the Danish MOD’s newly launched green action plan, which is being enacted across all areas of the nation’s defence ministry. The two electric light aircraft are being leased from the French company, Green Aerolease, and are scheduled to be delivered to the RDAF this autumn.

The Slovenian-built Velis Electro and its capabilities will be evaluated by the RDAF for its primary use as a training platform – along with other possible mission sets – to determine whether to make further type acquisitions for wider military roles. The electric aircraft will be flown alongside the air arm’s current training platform, the Saab T-17 Supporter, which is used for flying school training and maintenance flights. The Velis Electro will also enable the RDAF to gain experience with charging options and battery technology, among other things.

Pipistrel’s Velis Electro is 100% emission-free and very quiet, with a noise level of only 60dB (decibels), which is roughly equivalent to two people holding a normal conversation. Military interest in the type has also been shown in France, as the Chef d’état-Major de l’Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace (Chief of the French Air and Space Force), Gen Philippe Lavigne, completed a test flight in the platform from Base Aérienne 107 (BA107) Villacoublay-Vélizy, near Paris, on May 19, 2021.