April 3, 2024


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization remains the bedrock of Denmark’s national security. It is also one of the two countries within the European Union that proposed a higher defense budget in 2010 than in 2009.  In September 2011, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Frank A. Rose, stated that Denmark “punches above its weight class” in regards to BMD cooperation with the United States.[i] In 2004, the Danish government agreed to an upgrade to a radar in Thule, Greenland for use as a Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radar System.

Denmark’s Ballistic Missile Defense Capabilities

System Operator Number Deployed Platform
Upgraded Early Warning Radar System in Thule, Greenland Joint U.S. and Denmark One Ground-based sensor
 SMART-L Radar Denmark  Three Iver Huitfeldt class frigates  

The Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate employed by the Royal Danish Navy

Denmark hosts a Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radar System  in Thule, Greenland. This radar is an integral part of the U.S. missile defense architecture. Denmark’s Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates also contributes Danish missile defense. Three Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates were commissioned by Denmark between 2011 and 2014. The vessels are relatively cheap—costing around $325 million per vessel. Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates are designed for air defense and each consists of a SMART-L air/surface radar, an APAR search, tracking, and guidance radar, and two CEROS 200 fire control radars.

Denmark’s Air Defense Capabilities

System Role Number Deployed Platform
Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Short and medium-range anti-ship air defense interceptor Three Iver Huitfeldt class frigates  
FIM-92 Stinger Short-Range Air Defense Unknown Man-Portable
Active Phased Array multifunction Radar (APAR) Short-range anti-ship air defense radar Three Iver Huitfeldt class frigates  
CEROS 200 Fire Control System (FCS)  Sea-based radar and optronic tracking fir control director  Three Iver Huitfeldt class frigates

Current Developments

In August 2014, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard announced a plan to contribute at least one of Denmark’s Iver Huitfeldt frigates outfitted with a radar system to NATO’s BMD mission.[ii]

In April of 2016, the Danish Defense Acquisition and Logistics Organization contracted Terma to design an integrated air and missile defense system, or IAMD.  The system will be for at least one Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate of the Royal Danish Navy, giving it a ballistic missile defense sensor capability in line with NATO’s BMD system needs.

As of February 2017, Denmark was looking into missile defense systems to defend against Russia.[iii]

In February 2018, Denmark passed a landmark spending deal that would advance Denmark’s goal goal to raise spending on its military to 2 percent of gross domestic product ― a target set by NATO for its member states to hit by 2024. [iv]

In March 2023, air force commanders from Scandinavian nations Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland signed a letter of intent to create a unified air defense alliance to combat the Russian threat.

In October 2023, Denmark announced plans to purchase 5 THALES Ground Master 200 Multi-Mission Compact radars.

In April 2024, reports surfaced that Denmark had issues with sensors and weapons on ships deployed to the Red Sea in order to combat Yemen-based Houthis. This reportedly prevented the frigate Iver Huitfeldt from launching RIM-162 ESSMs for approximately 30 minutes. Denmark has opened an investigation into the reports

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