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Denmark’s first F-35 takes off

Royal Danish Air Force L-001 first flight
Royal Danish Air Force F-35 takes off during its maiden flight at Lockheed's Forth Worth facility on March 8. Photo: Danish defense ministry

The Royal Danish Air Force’s first F-35A fighter (tail number L-001) has completed its maiden flight in Texas.

The first flight took place on March 8 at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, from where the fighter is scheduled to be officially handed over to Denmark on April 7.

The flight on Monday was the first of a total of four planned tests, which are undertaken by a test team from Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force. L-001 met all of the criteria of the first test, the Danish defense ministry said.

Following delivery next month, L-001 will fly to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where it will again be reviewed in detail by Danish technicians.

Denmark is buying 27 of the fifth-generation fighter jets, which are scheduled for delivery between 2021 and 2026. While it will be delivered to Denmark next month, L-001 will first arrive at Skrydstrup air base in 2023 as it will be used to train Danish pilots at Luke AFB, alongside up to five other Danish F-35s.

While the first Danish pilot has already flown an F-35 fighter, the first flight of a Danish pilot in a Danish F-35 is expected to take place in May this year.

Denmark has been part of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) development work since 1997, securing early involvement of Danish industry in the program. In 2007, the Danish side signed the JSF co-operation agreement, and from 2013-2016, Denmark implemented the type selection process, which culminated in a political agreement to procure the F-35.

The F-35 is phasing out the F-16, which has been in service since the 1980s.