Wednesday 7 June 2023

For Queen & NATO: Listing Denmark’s Recent Weapons Purchases

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
Much attention has been devoted to Poland's defence spending boost (not the least through our dedicated article) that is set to provide the country the largest army in the European Union. [1] Other NATO members are making an attempt to follow suit, with Romania currently embarking on a smaller but similarly ambitious rearmament programme. The combined efforts of these countries will ultimately see the acquisition of thousands of MBTs and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and more than a thousand self-propelled guns (SPGs) and multiple rocket launchers (MRLs). Considering these impressive numbers, it is perhaps easy to forget the efforts of smaller nations like Denmark, the Baltic States and the Netherlands at significantly modernising and expanding the capabilities of their armed forces.

Denmark in particular has sought to expedite the process with which it acquires military equipment, accelerating to a pace previously unthinkable for defence projects in Europe. Though the number of weapons systems acquired is anything but spectacular – especially compared to countries like Poland – they remain vital for the security of NATO in their own right. Several of these acquisitions introduce new capabilities entirely, while others make up for capabilities lost since the conclusion of the Cold War. For Denmark, this has included its submarine service (2004), MRLs (2004), SAM systems (2005) and tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (2006). In order to pay for the new acquisitions, Denmark has significantly increased its defence budget and even abolished a public holiday to boost military spending. [2] [3]

In service of a population of just under six million, the Danish Armed Forces are comparatively small. As a seagoing nation that also bears the responsibility for the defence of the Faroes and Greenland (both autonomous countries within the Kingdom of Denmark), Denmark does operate a sizeable navy consisting of five frigates and eight offshore patrol vessels (OPVs). In contrast, the future fighter composition of the Danish Air Force is to consist of only 27 F-35 fighter aircraft. The Danish Army fields one mechanised brigade of 4.000+ troops that can be deployed in the framework of NATO on short notice. This force can be strengthened with a supplementary force of up to 4.000 troops. Furthermore, up to 20.000 troops can be mobilised in the form of conscripts and Home Guard volunteers should the need ever arise. [4]
While the commitment of one mechanised brigade (at least in the initial stages of a conflict) might not seem much, the Danish Army's 1st Brigade is notably more fleshed out than similar formations around Europe. Rather than increasing the size of its standing forces, Denmark has recently opted to increase the strength of the 1st Brigade through the acquisition of Israeli-made PULS MRLs, ground-based air defence systems and electronic warfare systems. These systems will supplement a force consisting of 44 Leopard 2A7DK MBTs, 44 CV9035DK IFVs, 300+ Piranha V APCs and 19 ATMOS 2000 SPGs (which were purchased in 2023 to replace the 19 Caesar 8x8 SPGs donated to Ukraine). When not fully deployed, the brigade's units can also be deployed individually to enhance the firepower of other NATO armies.
Future acquisitions by Denmark could include additional F-35s along with stand-off weapons such as the AGM-158B JASSM-ER ALCM and the AGM-88G AARGM-ER ARM. The armament suite of the Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates could potentially be expanded through the acquisition of BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This would mirror efforts made by the Netherlands to significantly increase the capabilities of already existing weapons systems by acquiring new armament types for them. A case could also be made for the acquisition of (additional) precision-guided munitions for Denmark's ATMOS SPGs and PULS MRLs. Especially the latter system would benefit from the full range of long-range precision guided rockets compatible with it. [5] Whatever future steps will be taken to further strengthen Denmark's defence capabilities, it is certain that the Kingdom is determined not to shirk its responsibilities as a NATO member.

This article attempts to list (future) equipment acquisitions by the Danish Army, Navy and Air Force. This list focuses on heavy weapons systems and doesn't include ATGMs, MANPADS, trucks, radars and (non-naval) ammunition. When deemed appropriate, the future quantity of the equipment category is given. This number includes both future equipment acquisitions as well as equipment already in service. This list will be updated as new acquisitions are reported.

Army - Hæren

Infantry Fighting Vehicles (Future Quantity: 44)

  • Upgrade Of 44 CV90s With New Sighting And Weapons Systems [To be upgraded in the mid-2020s]

Armoured Personnel Carriers (Future Quantity: 330+)

  • Switzerland 330+ Piranha Vs (In different configurations. Can be armed with Spike-LR2 ATGMs) [Deliveries to be completed in 2023]

Artillery And Multiple Rocket Launchers (Future Quantity: 19 SPGs, 8 MRLs And 15 SPMs)

Air Defence Systems

Armoured Engineering Vehicles

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

  • Missing flag.png Programme To Acquire (Mini) Surveillance UAVs [To enter service from the mid-2020s onwards]

Air Force - Flyvevåbnet

Fighter Aircraft (Future Quantity: 27+)

  • 27 F-35As [Delivery Ongoing]
  • Additional F-35As [Planned Acquisition]


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

  • Missing flag.png Programme To Acquire Long-Range Surveillance UAVs [To enter service in the mid-to-late 2020s]

Basic Trainers

  • Upgrade Of 27 T-17 Supporter Basic Trainer Aircraft [To be upgraded in the mid-2020s]

Navy - Søværnet

Surface Combatants

  • 4 Programme To Acquire Four Frigates Or Corvettes [Will enter service in the late 2020s or early 2030s] (Will replace four Thetis-class patrol vessels)

Miscellaneous Ships

  • 1 New Station Vessel for the Navy's Diving Service [To enter service in 2029 or 2030]
  • Missing flag.png Programme To Acquire Small Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) For Use Aboard Surface Ships [To enter service in the mid-to-late 2020s]

Shipborne Weapons

  • 50 SM-2 Block IIIA Surface-To-Air Missiles For Iver Huitfeldt-Class Frigates [Delivered from 2021 onwards]
  • SM-6 Surface-To-Air And Anti-Ballistic Missiles For Iver Huitfeldt-Class Frigates [Planned Acquistion]
[1] A 21st Century Powerhouse: Listing Poland’s Recent Arms Acquisitions
[3] Denmark scraps public holiday to boost defence budget
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A 21st Century Powerhouse: Listing Poland’s Recent Arms Acquisitions