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U.S., Denmark Sign Joint Strike Fighter Agreement

Presenter: Under Secretary of Defense E. C. "Pete" Aldridge
May 28, 2002

(Signing of a memorandum of understanding for the Joint Strike Fighter development phase. Participants included Air Force Brig. Gen. John L. Hudson, director, Joint Strike Fighter Program Office; Jorgen Hansen-Nord, deputy permanent secretary of state for defense and national armaments director, Danish Department of National Defense; and E. C. "Pete" Aldridge, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.)

Hudson: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am Brigadier General Jack Hudson, director of the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office. I have the great honor and privilege today to introduce two men who have had and will have a very profound impact in the future on the Joint Strike Fighter program. As a matter of fact, these two men here today oversaw the completion of the negotiations for the event that we're here for today, the signing of the Joint Strike Fighter Memorandum of Understanding for the development phase.

First, Mr. Jorgen Hansen-Nord from the Danish Department of National Defense is the Deputy Permanent Secretary of State for Defense and the National Armaments Director. He has been a tremendous advocate for the program in Denmark. His energy and vision have advanced the program through the government of Denmark to allow this event here today.

Secondly, Mr. Pete Aldridge from the United States Department of Defense. He is the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. He also has the same keen energy and vision that he has applied to keep this program on track and executing well and also to the international aspects to allow this even there today.

It's fitting that both of these men sign the binding agreement that they helped shape and craft and get ready for today.

Mr. Aldridge, sir, the floor is yours.

Aldridge: Thank you, Jack. It is a pleasure to be here today. This is quite a serious and important event. The U.S. of course, as you know, is developing a Joint Strike Fighter which consists of a carrier version, a conventional version, and a short take-off and vertical landing version, and it welcomes Denmark as the newest member of our international systems development and demonstration phase partnership.

Denmark has been part of this program since 1997 and has now signed on for an additional ten years.

We in the government treasure our strong relationship with Denmark. I consider Jorgen Hansen-Nord to be a very good friend as well as a longstanding partner in defense acquisition issues and matters.

The Joint Strike Fighter is yet another example of our cooperative relationship across many different programs and projects. This cooperative effort reinforces a longstanding and close relationship between our two countries and will serve to strengthen interoperability and our industrial base.

But the relationship obviously extends beyond our governments. As I look into this audience I'm impressed with the high level of industry involvement. I see the highest officers of such companies as Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric. Also international companies. I know that they're all working closely with the Danish embassy to ensure that there is ample opportunity for them to join in this monumental endeavor.

We will succeed as a result of this international cooperation, both government and industrial partners.

The Joint Strike Fighter is setting new standards for their technological advances. They're also rewriting the books on acquisition and business practices as well as taking advantage of the newest export licensing laws.

This is truly a marriage between governments and industry that will ultimately result in the deployment of a highly capable, interoperable Joint Strike Fighter by the armed forces of our partner nations. Thank you.

I'd like to introduce Mr. Nord, come up and make a few words, please.

Hansen-Nord: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start by saying how very proud I am to be able to sign today's agreement making Denmark a participating nation in the system development and demonstration phase of the Joint Strike Fighter program.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the United States government and in particular Mr. Pete Aldridge and his staff and General Jack Hudson and his staff for their excellent cooperation and for their assistance in bringing us to this point where we are today.

Today's decision to take part in the development phase of this hopefully affordable multi-role fighter aircraft of tomorrow is a very important decision for the Danish government and for Danish industry as well.

Our participation in the program will give the Danish armed forces the opportunity to contribute to the development of the aircraft itself and also to the development of the logistic aspects and concepts of the program.

Given the importance of keeping life cycle costs down, we attach great importance to the development of a technical as well as an operational logistics concept that will keep the aircraft affordable once it's brought into action. We believe that we can contribute to this.

We will also get valuable knowledge of cutting edge technology that will be important to us in the evaluation of future military programs.

For Danish industry our participation is of great importance, of course. The Danish defense industry may be small in size, we know that, but I believe that they are great in performance and great in quality. They know very well that they will have to be competitive and to excel to get their share of the work and they have promised me that they are ready for that.

The opportunity to get access to valuable business opportunities and to further develop business relations with American industry, sharing knowledge and technology will strengthen the industry in both our countries. This has certainly been acknowledged by Danish industry and it has been demonstrated by their contribution to the financing of our participation the SDD phase which is in itself an exciting cooperation between the Danish armed forces and Danish industry.

At this occasion I would like to thank representatives of Danish industry from the A.P. Miller Group, from Mehrstetter, and from Turner who are with us today for their contribution to this important position.

Today's participation in the SDD phase is much more than a partnership in a development program. It is also evidence of our strategic relationship and of the excellent relations between our two countries that have existed for many years.

We have stood shoulder by shoulder during the Cold War, through the challenging 1990s, and since September 11th we have again joined forces in Operation Enduring Freedom and in the fight against terrorism. We don't know what challenges the future will bring, but we do know that by standing together and working together we'll be able to face challenges of the future as well.

The Joint Strike Fighter program is an example of our cooperation and our will to do this and to stick together in the years to come.

With these few words I would like to congratulate the United States of America and my own country for this newest example of cooperation between our countries. Thank you very much.

[Applause]

[Signing]

Hudson: We'll try to respond to a few of your questions if you'd like.

Q: Mr. Hansen-Nord, I wonder if you might tell us, do you have any idea how many aircraft that Denmark is going to purchase?

Hansen-Nord: To be quite frank, today we have signed the MOU for joining the SDD phase. We do not have any decision as yet concerning the number of aircraft we might procure. That's a decision that lies some 12-15 years into the future from now.

Q: What is the value of the Danish investment in the SDD phase with government and industry?

Hansen-Nord: It is an investment of $125 million. That's what we paid to be a member here.

Q: And the government/industry split on that?

Hansen-Nord: The amount paid by the industry is $20 million.

Q: Mr. Aldridge, a couple of months ago there were news stories about how the Navy and the Marines were integrating their air wings and potentially cutting their Joint Strike Fighter purchases. You sent out letters to some of our allies to assure them this is not a sign that your commitment to the program is any less.

Can you give us an update on where your review of that integration plan now stands and the potential cuts to the program?

Aldridge: As you know, the Navy/Marines did put together an integration study. We have asked in the Defense Planning Guidance for them to come back and give us an update for their POM review, because this is really an out-year issue, not a near-term issue.

One of the things I would say about the Navy/Marine study was it clearly pointed out the strength of the Joint Strike Fighter and made that program even stronger, but we're now going through looking at the out year review because it's going to be really to the year 2012 before there's going to be any kind of a change in the numbers of aircraft.

The buildup rate, there's no effect on the system development and demonstration program and it will not have any effect until several years in the future.

Q: Also a question for you. Two months ago you said that Turkey would be joining about now. I was wondering if you could give us an update on how soon you expect Turkey or Italy to join the program.

Aldridge: Italy, they're going through their parliamentary review as we speak. I spoke to the ambassador to -- I mean the Dutch are going through their process and Italy is also doing the same thing. Both decisions should be made pretty soon, probably before the end of this month. Around the first part of June, something in that range.

Q: Turkey?

Aldridge: Turkey is still in negotiation. I don't believe we've reached a point yet for writing an MOU but we're still in discussions with them.

Q: Could you bound allied participation a little bit? This is the third ally to join? How many?

Aldridge: The first partner was the United Kingdom. They were involved for about $2 billion. Our second partner signed up was Canada. Denmark is the third. We have Italy and the Netherlands are in the process. We're in discussions with Turkey. I believe Norway is another partner. These are still in the final phases of negotiation for coming on board.

Q: Does this represent a final decision or not by Denmark to eventually buy the Joint Strike Fighter?

Hansen-Nord: This is a decision to join the SDD phase and we have not decided to procure any aircraft by this decision.

Aldridge: Any other questions?

[No audible response]

Thank you very much.