Defence Minister Søren Gade announced Wednesday that a decision on which fighter jets the military will purchase to replace the current F-16s is being postponed, reports Berlingske Tidende newspaper.

The issue has been hotly debated in both parliament and in the media over the past two years. But since the planes would not be put into service until 2020 anyway, Gade said there is no reason for MPs to get bogged down in the discussion.

Politicians had originally taken the issue up in parliament in connection with talks for the upcoming national defence plan, which would cover the next five years.

“The information for making any decision on the planes is not yet available, and I want to get started with negotiations on the national defence plan,” said Gade.

Gade said he expected that the fighter plane debate would begin again in the fall.

Denmark currently has 48 F-16 fighter planes, but it has sunk vast sums into the US Joint Strike Fighter project over the past few years. This investment has been criticised by many MPs as laying the foundation for justifying the purchase of the American planes.

The Norwegian military recently decided to purchase 56 JSF Lockheed Martin F35 Lightning II jets at a price of 145 billion Norwegian kroner, payable over a 30-year period.

In addition to Lockheed Martin, the other fighter jets being considered by the Danish military are the Saab-manufactured Gripen and the joint-EU project Eurofighter.

US manufacturer Boeing also entered the field recently, guaranteeing 20 billion kroner in contracts to Danish companies if the military purchased its F-18 Super Hornet.

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