The Russians have expanded the perimeter of their defense capabilities in the Arctic and in so doing have raised concerns from the other Arctic powers.
This is clearly a core concern for the Nordics and an important input to their defense modernization efforts, nationally and collectively.
And certainly, the Nordic members of NATO are focused on enhanced NATO capabilities to defends the Northern Flank, which now includes an expanded Russian presence and capability generated from the Arctic as well.
For Denmark, this means in large part the defense of Greenland. The Kingdom is an Arctic power because of their role in Greenland. And the Danish defense modernization strategy is built around acquiring the F-35 and shaping a fifth generation enabled force able to integrate at the speed of light with those in the defense of the Northern flank.
Therefore, it is not a surprise that Danish officials are now discussing adding F-35s to their initial buy as part of their capability to deal with Russian threats to Greenland.
In a story published on May 21, 2019, Russian actions and Danish actions with regard to the Arctic and to the defense of Greenland are highlighted.
Denmark will have to deploy fighter aircraft on its bases in Greenland, the world’s largest island, if Russia violates Greenlandic airspace, Danish Defence Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen of the liberal-conservative Venstre party has warned.
According to the Danish military, parts of Greenland will soon be within reach of Russian aircraft, capable of breaching Greenlandic airspace without hindrance. At present, Denmark is powerless to stop this, the defence minister admitted
According to the Danish military, Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic involves tanker aircraft and fighter jets on the Nagurskoye airbase on the Arctic island of Alexandra Land located about 1,000 kilometres from the coast of Greenland, will allow the country to reach northeastern Greenland and its Thule base.
And in a recent interview, the Danish Defence Minister highlighted that this require the acquisition of additional F-35s for the Danish Air Force.
Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen (V) reports in Monday’s edition of Berlingske that it may be necessary in the future to base Danish combat aircraft permanently in Greenland.
The Minister fears that at some point Russia will fly military aircraft into Greenlandic airspace without Denmark being able to do anything.
But Denmark will need at least four fighter planes to provide for an air defense mission in Greenland, and in an interview with Ritzau, Claus Hjort Frederiksen says that it will require a new purchase.
(Translation from the Danish by Second Line of Defense with full apology to our Danish friends!)
The Danish Air Force is in the throes of its F-16 to F-35 transition which we discussed last Fall with the Chief of Staff of the Royal Danish Air Force, Major General Anders Rex.
In the discussion with him, we discussed the challenge which the Russians were posing with their reach and presence with an expanded Arctic military capability.
We visited Flyvestation Skrydstrup last Fall as well discuss with Danish Air Force officers the process of transition as well.
And last week, our colleague, Hans Tino Hansen, the CEO of Risk Intelligence, who brought this story to our attention, had a chance to witness a Norwegian F-35 landing at the Danish fighter base.
Just a harbinger of things to come in the Northern Flank version of the F-35 global enterprise.
The photos in the slideshow are credited to Hans Tino Hansen.