Commuters were confronted by a strange sight last month: adverts for the F18 Super Hornet fighter jet. Producer Boeing launched the campaign just over a month before the government is due to announce how it intends to replace its ageing fleet of F16s, purchased in the 1980s, which are now conducting bombing raids in Iraq and Syria.
The Super Hornet is one of three remaining contenders for the 30 billion kroner contract, the other two being the F35 Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin and the Eurofighter Typhoon from Airbus Defence.
The F35 is the clear favourite, despite concerns that it is not properly developed and significantly more expensive to purchase and maintain than its two competitors.
This was one of the main arguments Boeing put forward in its campaign, which promised that the maintenance of a fleet of F18s would cost 20 billion kroner less over a 30-year period than the F35. Boeing said that if they received the contract, they would create 10,000 jobs in Denmark by prioritising its subcontracting with Danish businesses.
The F18 adverts were rolled out on busses, the radio and the internet, and were designed to tap into the unease some Danes feel in spending such large sums on military hardware in a time of austerity. Two political parties oppose purchasing the planes – the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) and the Alternative (Alternativet) – and 53.3 percent of Danes agree, according to a Wilke survey in April.
Boeing’s message is if Denmark is going to buy war planes, why not buy something cheap and battle-tested? F18s have already spent one million hours in service, primarily for the US Navy.
Haunting parliament’s decision is the fiasco that played out following the purchase of high-speed IC4 trains from Italian manufacturer AnsaldoBreda. Lengthy delays in their delivery, and trouble getting them to work on the tracks, were ultimately blamed on the decision to buy highly modified versions of the trains rather than standard tested models.
It remains to be seen whether Boeing’s strategy to market its planes as a ‘responsible’ choice will pay off when parliament’s defence committee decides which of the three planes to purchase. Either way, the advertising campaign brought plenty of mirth to ordinary Danes, who took the opportunity to produce their own versions of the adverts. M