Boeing loses case against Denmark over jet fighter
Boeing had sued the Danish Ministry of Defense after it decided not to disclose the evaluation files regarding the choice of the Lockheed F-35 over the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet. On March 23, 2018, The court of Copenhagen released its verdict: the refusal was legal.
Several voices had emerged in 2016, when Denmark announced its decision of purchasing the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter instead of the Eurofighter Typhoon or the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet. Some pointed that of the four criteria that were evaluated (strategic, military, economic and industrial aspects), the economical one was flawed: while the F-35A procurement is priced at only $80 million per plane (a price that should be reached in 2019), the Super Hornet was evaluated at $122 million per plane, way over the official figure ($57 million).
The evaluation also describes the Super Hornet as a “double-seat aircraft” which obviously adds the cost of a weapon systems officer training to the plane operation. However, a single-seat version of the Super Hornet exists, but was apparently not evaluated by Denmark.
The choice of Denmark did not come as a surprise: with its longer operational capability, the F-35 can be bought in smaller numbers, which is something preferred by smaller countries. The need for an aircraft sporting cutting-edge technology to ensure air superiority in case of a Russian engagement, coupled with an equivalent price to the less impressive Eurofighter Typhoon, seems to have been determinant. The fact that Denmark is already participating in the F-35 joint production also played a role.
However, the evaluation was deemed as “over-enthusiast” regarding the F-35 performance, especially since it was done at a time when the plane had scarce amount of engagement data to provide compared to the more battle-proven Super Hornet and Typhoon.
In a statement released the day of the decision, Boeing justified its legal action, saying it was trying „to gain a better understanding of the evaluation process, in which [they] believe the Ministry made a number of critical errors and omissions in its evaluation.”
The Danish Ministry of Defense had initially refused access to the evaluation data as it would be “too complicated” to find every document since the beginning of the negotiations, in 2005. Boeing should not appeal of the Court’s decision.
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