Denmark - Air Force / Flyvertaktisk Kommando
The Air Force scrutinizes all military flights in Danish airspace and transports Danish soldiers deployed in international operations. The Flying Staff under the Joint Services Defence Command defines the operational requirements and the provisions of preparedness, so the Air Force to fulfill its national and international tasks quickly, accurately and efficiently.
The Air Force has several aircraft that are constantly on the alert. Thus, two F-16 aircraft around the clock ready to examine and possibly refuse unauthorized flights in Danish airspace. Also, three rescue helicopters are around the clock preparedness, ready to search for and rescue of persons in distress at sea or transporting seriously ill patients to the hospital. The Air Force also has an F-16 squadron signed up to NATO's rapid reaction forces and a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft registered NATO transport pool.
The world has changed rapidly since the end of the cold war and the subsequent years have emphasized the urgent need for the ongoing transformation of the Royal Danish Air Force from a static garrison defense to a truly expeditionary Air Force, capable of projecting air power all over the globe.
The five-year agreement on the Danish Defense 2005 - 2009 - strengthens the expeditionary capabilities of the Air Force. Streamlining the Royal Danish Air Force organization for expeditionary warfare is one of the cornerstones of the agreement. By separating peacetime administration and non-operational support functions from the operational organizations the Air Force will fulfill the concept of “Train and organize as you fight”. The three current air bases will be transformed to three wings; Wing Karup, Wing Skrydstrup and Wing Aalborg. Furthermore, an Expeditionary Combat Support Wing and an Air Control Wing would be established. All wings will be totally expeditionary and capable of deploying and participating in international missions abroad.
The Royal Danish Air Force proved its international standard and ability during e.g. Operation Allied Force in Kosovo in 1999 and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan during 2002-2003 with F-16 Fighting Falcon combat air craft deployment and attendance of 150 soldiers based in Manas, Kyrgyzstan.
The Royal Danish Air Force also contributes to homeland security. The main tasks are air space surveillance, air policing, search and rescue operations, marine environment surveillance, and helicopter support to the Danish police.
The influx of new transport aircraft (Hercules C130 J) and new helicopters (EH 101) increases the capacity of the Air Force to support land-based military operations and humanitarian efforts, just as inspection aircraft (Challenger) give the Air Force sufficient capacity for environmental surveillance and for addressing other domestic needs, including tasks in the North Atlantic region.
In addition, upgraded F-16 aircraft continue to constitute a significant capacity compared to the national sovereignty defence (defence readiness) and relevant participation in international operations, including participation in the NATO Response Force. The overall fighter aircraft structure, including the number of operational aircraft, is to be adapted in accordance with actual tasks and with respect to the F-16 aircraft's total lifetime and the possibilities of introducing new fighter aircraft in the long term.
The level of ambition for the Air Force's contribution of fighter aircraft to international operations is fixed at eight fighter aircraft at high readiness and eight fighter aircraft at lower readiness.
NATO's decision to establish a large air operational facility at Karup, which is a significant, high-priority contribution to NATO's air defence capacities, includes a need for continued development of the command organisation of the Air Force, and for the Air Force to make a broadly-scoped contribution to operational personnel and support for the air operational facility.
Danish participation in NATO's Prague Capabilities Commitment concerning air to air refuelling and strategic air transport is to be strengthened. The Air Force's compulsory military service is to be reorganised so that Air Force conscripts will in principle undergo the same training program as Army and Navy conscripts.
Under the Danish Defence Agreement 2005-2009, the Air Force was reorganised as follows:
- The land-based air defence system (DeHawk) will be abolished.
- A staff will be established at the Air Tactical Command that can be detached and deployed autonomously or together with other Danish units.
- Eight fighter aircraft at high readiness and eight fighter aircraft at lower readiness designated to NATO, which means that - together with aircraft for national task performance - considering the requisite number of training aircraft, the remaining flight time of each aircraft, etc., 48 operational F-16 aircraft will be maintained and organised in two squadrons that are expected to be placed at Skrydstrup Air Base.
- One transport aircraft at high readiness and an additional two transport aircraft for occasional deployment at lower readiness are to be designated to NATO. The aircraft are part of a transport unit consisting of four transport aircraft and three inspection aircraft based in Aalborg.
- One transport helicopter unit consisting of four helicopters designated to NATO at high readiness. The contributions are to be part of a helicopter unit consisting of fourteen EH-101 helicopters, which also participate in national rescue efforts, etc. The helicopters are based at Karup Air Base.
- One helicopter observation and light transport detachment consisting of four helicopters is to be designated for NATO on high readiness. The detachment is part of a helicopter company consisting of eight Fennec helicopters.
- One mobile air operations facility with long-range radar, based at Karup Air Base and Skrydstrup Air Base, designated to NATO at high readiness. In addition, the overall radar structure consists of one mobile radar (Multebjerg), a stationary air operations facility (Karup) and two stationary radar facilities (Skagen and Bornholm).
- In addition to this, the following are designated to NATO at high readiness: one unit for establishing airfields, one communication unit, one unit for examining and air-evacuating casualties and a staff unit.
- The Air Force's Special Training School and the Air Force's Command and Combat Support School are to be amalgamated at Karup Air Base.
- The primary maintenance of transport aircraft, inspection aircraft and helicopters is to be outsourced, the main workshop at Værløse Air Base is to be closed down and the air base is to be sold.
The total number of permanent Air Force personnel fixed at around 3,400, and the number of response force contracts is set at around 250, for which approximately 2,500 sustainment training days are earmarked each year. The Defence Budget is based on a calculated figure equivalent of some 100 full-time conscripts annually for the Air Force.
In determining the placement of the Air Force's units and commands, priority was given to optimum utilisation of the total available capacity, as the subsequent consolidation may lead to a need for additional changes.
The following equipment is to be procured for the Air Force under the Danish Defence Agreement 2005-2009:
- One Hercules C-130-J transport aircraft.
- Electronic warfare systems.
- Command and control systems for F-16s, etc., (C3I, Link 16).
- Upgrading of F-16s (M5).
- Participation in PCC (air to air refuelling and strategic air transport).
- Mobile control and reporting centre.
- Participation in NATO's jointly funded capability initiatives (PCC), including Allied Ground Surveillance and AWACS.
- Denmark continues to participate in the Joint Strike Fighter project.
On 24 June 2009 the Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Danish People’s Party, the Socialist People’s Party, the Conservative Party, the Radical Liberal Party and the Liberal Alliance Party entered into an agreement regarding Danish Defence for the period 2010-1014.
The Air Force’s Fennec helicopter structure is to be reduced both in terms of personnel and equipment, thereby eliminating the international capability. The Air Force’s combat aircraft capability is to be reduced from 48 to 30 operational combat aircraft. The Air Force’s airspace surveillance capability is to be reduced. This entails the decommissioning of the last stationary air space surveillance radar station on Zealand (Multebjerg Radar Station).
On 30 November 2012 the Danish coalition government (the Social Democrats, the Social-Liberal Party and the Socialist People's Party) and the ‘Venstre’ (the liberal party), the Danish People's Party, the Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives entered into the an agreement regarding the Danish defence for the period 2013-2017.
To replace the current Lynx helicopters of the air force, it has been decided to acquire nine new type MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopters. With this acquisition the ability to support the navy's tasks is reinforced, also in the Arctic. The helicopters are expected to be delivered from 2016 to 2018, and are expected to completely take over operational tasks as of about 2019.
In March 2011 coalition air strikes in Libya, under the United Nations Security Council mandate, helped the rebels advance toward the capital, Tripoli, and the attacks continued to hamper the Libyan army's ability to control, deploy and supply its forces.
The Danes almost ran out of bombs and had to make sudden mid-operations replenishments. Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola, the chairman of NATO's military committee, denied that the air operation in Libya was running short of aircraft or munitions. "Assets are important; the alliance welcomes any contributions, including strike assets, but there is no substantial lack," Di Paola said April 20. "Any added contribution is welcome, and there is no commander who does not ask. But beyond these alarmist rumors, there is no lack. The operation continues. . . ."
Denmark is leading an effort that is looking at pooling munitions. Some nations ran out of bombs during the alliance’s 2011 operations in Libya. The Danish goal is to create a pool that countries with interoperable systems could invest in and then they could draw down from the pool during an operation.
Under the 2013-2017 Defence Agreement Denmark reduced the size of its combat air fleet but provides a substantial proportion of its air assets as deployable contributions for expeditionary operations. Its main fixed-wing capabilities are 30 multirole F-16 multirole combat aircraft, four C-130J transport aircraft and three CL-604 MPA Out of 14 EH-lOl Merlin transport helicopters, Denmark will provide six for deployed operations, the others being reserved for national tasks. Four of the six deployable helicopters and one C-130 transport aircraft will be capable of CSAR and SOF missions. The air force will be able to meet most NATO Capability Targets, although it Iacks sufficient deployable air base support and protection modules, and will therefore be dependent on other nations to operate from deployed locations. Denmark has also no intention of acquiring an air-to-air refuelling capability or a long range ISR platform. Aircraft are suitably equipped with self protection devices and are able to operate by day and night under adverse weather conditions Stockpiles of precision guided munitions are below NATO targets and stand-off weapons are not part of the inventory.
In 2019, the Air Staff and the Expeditionary Air Wing reorganised into the Air Command. The new Air Command included a new National Air Operations Centre. Furthermore, the Air Force Training Centre will be closed and all tasks outsourced to other units and entities. An Operations Support Wing will also be stood up. The air force consists of: 30 combat aircraft (F-16), four medium transport aircraft (C-130J), 14 tactical transport helicopters (EH-101 Merlin) of which eight are used for national SAR missions, and eight light transport helicopters (AS-550 Fennec). The air force operates seven MH60R Seahawk helicopters (with an additional two expected in 2019) and four CL-604 Challenger aircraft. The current F-16 fleet has no suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) or electronic attack capability. With the introduction of the F-35, the air force expects to introduce some SEAD capability. Denmark plans to replace its F-16 with 27 F35 combat aircraft in the timeframe 2021 to 2026, resulting in a gap in Denmark’s deployable combat air capability in the period 2022-2024 and limited combat air capability in the period 2025-2027.
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