Denmark’s Defense Ministry plans to discuss a number of multinational security cooperation efforts at NATO’s May summit in Chicago that could address European and alliance security gaps as worldwide military spending declines in the coming decade.
“I’m thinking about air policing, closer cooperation on transport aircraft and joint procurement, and stockpiling of ammunition,” Danish Defense Minister Nick Hækkerup said during a March 26 speech to industry officials at the Danish Embassy in Washington. “We need to put action behind the words. We need to show resolve.”
During a meeting at the Pentagon earlier in the day, Hækkerup and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “exchanged ideas on how to preserve critical [NATO] capabilities in an austere budget environment, particularly NATO smart defense initiatives,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a March 26 email.
“In this perspective, it is crucial that we view the development of the Danish armed forces in an international perspective,” Hækkerup said during his speech. “We have to see the Danish armed forces in connection with our allies and partners. We will look for solutions where it brings value.”
Despite having fewer funds for defense, Denmark must continue to meet current military obligations, Hækkerup noted.
“Participation in multinational cooperation will contribute to maintaining strong and flexible armed forces in Denmark,” he said.
Danish forces are currently deployed in Afghanistan and flew its F-16 fighters during NATO’s campaign in Libya last year.
“Even as we reduce defense spending, we will still be lifting our share of global responsibility,” Hækkerup said. “We need to find new ways of achieving the same effect with less money. In the framework of [the] NATO Smart Defense agenda, we are working hard on these issues.”
Despite declining personnel numbers in Denmark’s armed forces, the country has three major acquisition programs planned in the coming years.
“We will still make investments in modern equipment and weapon systems in the future,” Hækkerup said. “We need to buy the right equipment and weapon systems in cooperation with our allies and partners.”
The country is looking to buy new maritime helicopters, armored personnel carriers and new fighter jets.
Denmark is in the “final stage” of a maritime helicopter competition between the AgustaWestland Lynx and the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin Seahawk.
“I expect the armed forces to present the result of negotiations later this year,” Hækkerup said.
A new armored personnel carrier (APC) will replace the country’s M113 tracked vehicles, which have been in service for more than 40 years.
“We need new APCs to enable the Army to take part in demanding operations many years ahead,” he said. “Protection of our soldiers has a very high priority. The new APC must meet these requirements.”
Military officials are preparing the tender for this program, which could include “multinational cooperation,” Hækkerup noted. Denmark might also combine its APC buy with the buy made by another country.
Denmark is a development partner on the multinational F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, however the country’s selection of a new fighter was put on hold in March 2010.
The country could extend the service lives of its F-16 fighters in the near term, Hækkerup said. The current Danish defense agreement reduces the number of F-16s from 48 to 30.
Denmark’s defense industry sees about $350 million per year in work and employs about 2,000 people, according to the Danish Defense and Security Industries Association. About 75 percent of the industry’s defense products are exported.