Denmark's first F-35A takes shape

The Danish Ministry of Defence announced that the nation’s first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II had passed through the Electronic Mate and Alignment System (EMAS) in Fort Worth, Texas, on August 6.

According to the ministry, the F-35A – serial L-001 (c/n AX-01) – passed through the EMAS on July 16, where the final assembly of several of aircraft’s major components took place. As part of this process, the front, centre, wing and rear sections of the Lightning II were fitted together for the first time. 

Danish F-35A [Danish Ministry of Defence] #1
The front and centre sections of the Royal Danish Air Force's (RDAF's) first F-35A - serial L-001 (c/n AX-01) - are fitted in Lockheed Martin's Electronic Mate and Alignment System (EMAS) in July 2020. Danish MOD

Denmark is acquiring 27 examples of the F-35A to replace its ageing Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter fleet, which has been in service since the early-1980s. Since then, the F-16 has given the nation the ability to protect its territory and contribute to NATO operations, missions which will be taken over by the F-35 from 2027. The Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) will receive its first aircraft (serial L-001) in 2021 and deliveries are scheduled to conclude in 2026.

Maj Gen Anders Rex, Chief of the RDAF, said: “This is an important milestone we have reached on the way to receiving the first F-35 aircraft. The production of the F-35 aircraft to Denmark is beginning to take shape, and we are very much looking forward to the F-35 contributing to the Danish armed forces.”

Danish F-35A [Danish MOD] #1
Head on with Denmark's first F-35A. The aircraft - serial L-001 (c/n AX-01) - will be handed over to the RDAF in 2021. Danish MOD

After it is rolled out and tested, serial L-001 will be flown to Luke Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona, for RDAF air and ground crew training. The first F-35A will land at Skrydstrup air base in Vojens, Denmark, for the first time in 2023.

Denmark has participated in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme as a Level 3 partner since 1997. The nation signed the JSF cooperation agreement in 2007 and eventually selected the type to succeed its F-16AM/BM fleet in 2016, following a competitive programme.