First two Danish F-35As arrive at Luke AFB

Pilots belonging to the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) have delivered the first two Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters to Luke Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona.

The aircraft – serials L-001 (c/n AP-01) and L-002 (c/n AP-02) – were delivered to the Arizonan base on April 13 in preparation for the training of Danish pilots on the type. Assigned to the US Air Force’s 308th Fighter Squadron ‘Emerald Knights’, these two RDAF F-35As will eventually be joined by five more examples, which will also be used to support the training programme.

Danish F-35As [USAF/Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler]
The first two Danish F-35As arrive at Luke AFB in Arizona on April 13, 2021. USAF/Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler

Lt Col Matt ‘Hail’ Cisar, the commander of the ‘Emerald Knights’, said: “Today is a historical day for the partnership of the US and Denmark. We’ve been preparing for the first Danish jets for years. Now that they’re here, we’re excited to train our first Danish fighter pilots.”

Luke AFB is the home of the F-35 training programme, which is designed to integrate both domestic and foreign pilots into a common set of tactics and advanced technologies, allowing them to execute the Lightning II mission as one unit. The Arizona base is currently training pilots to operate the F-35 from a number of countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Singapore.

RDAF Lt Col Nick ‘Kin’ Hansen, a senior national representative assigned to the 308th FS, added: “We have to be able to operate together with different nations in the fifth-generation air force. When we have to go in to fight war together, we find comfort knowing we’ve gone through training from the same place.”

Danish F-35As [USAF/Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler]
The first RDAF-operated F-35A Lightning II - serial L-001 (c/n AP-01) - touches down at Luke AFB on April 13, 2021, just six days after Denmark's initial aircraft was rolled-out at Lockheed Martin's facility in Fort Worth, Texas. USAF/Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler

Denmark officially received its first F-35A on April 7, during a ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 final assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas. The first Danish F-35As will arrive in-country from 2023, with the initial examples being based at Flyvestation Skrydstrup (Skrydstrup Air Base) in the nation’s Jutland region.

The Danish government approved the procurement of 27 examples of the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL)-configured F-35A in June 2016, with the new fleet serving as a replacement for its ageing Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters.