Danish Companies Consider Quitting JSF Programme

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Danish Companies Consider Quitting JSF Programme

By Thomas Dodd, JDW Correspondent, Copenhagen
Jane's Defence Weekly, January 14, 2004

Danish companies involved in the US-led F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme are considering leaving the project because they have yet to receive orders from US defence group Lockheed Martin but are incurring costs, especially from continuing research and development.

Key Danish companies involved in the Level 3 partner status include Terma, Systematic and Maersk Data Defence.

"A main problem has been the so-called GPA [Global Project Authorisation] process, slowing the upstart of concrete projects for all concerned, including Lockheed Martin. Unfortunately, this comes at a time during which we and other Danish companies participating in the JSF programme have to renegotiate agreements with the Danish state," Bo Witthoft, senior vice president of Airborne Systems at Terma, told JDW.

The companies agreed in the early 1990s to pay DKr170 million ($29.3 million) each and the Danish government DKr722 million to participate in the programme. "We certainly want to have signed agreements within four to five months," Witthoft said. Terma had expected orders before the end of 2003. Its involvement in the programme relates to the production of gunpods and air-to-ground wing weapon pylons.

Michael Holm, head of Systematic Software Engineering, told Danish business daily Borsen: "If we don't get firm contracts for the JSF before the summer, we'll give up on the project as a subcontractor."

Maersk Data Defence is also losing patience, according to press reports.

Dana Pierce, Lockheed Martin's JSF programme representative in Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, this week pledged that Lockheed Martin will work towards obtaining firm commitments within the near future. "We understand the Danish companies' frustration. The complexity of the JSF programme entails that the process may not deliver rapid results, but it's our responsibility to do the thing right from the start - and if we speed the process up, we may risk having problems or delays at a later stage," Pierce told Borsen, adding that "the partnership will remain intact".

The Danish companies involved dismiss any speculation about a new and overt US bias in favour of homeland suppliers. A general problem is a US concern over handing to foreign suppliers confidential information that could ultimately reach enemies.

Pierce also acknowledged that secrecy clearances for Systematic have been fraught with difficulties and said he would accompany a US State Department delegation travelling to Denmark at the end of January, specifically in order to finalise secrecy clearance agreements. Pierce further revealed that Terma's two contracts would most likely be signed at the end of March 2004, with an additional unspecified contract being offered, and that AP Møller Maersk has made a bid for one of the larger JSF contracts. The bid relates to a JSF spare part logistics management solution.

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