Iver Huitfeldt
© Source: Nick / Forsvaret / Danish Defence ForcesIver Huitfeldt on station in the Red Sea. The Danish contribution to Operation Prosperity Guardian in the Red Sea has been cut short by approximately two weeks, following issues with the air defences aboard the frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt during an engagement of a group of 15 Houthi drones on March 9.
Defence news site OLFI was first to report on the issues, which included the frigate being unable to use its ESSM air defence missiles during half an hour, as well as "up to half" of the rounds fired from the twin 76 mm guns detonating too early and close to the ship. Despite these issues, the frigate managed to down four of the incoming drones, with the rest being handled by other vessels. Following a 30 minute reboot of the air defence system, the ESSM was back on line and three missiles as well as 50-100 rounds of 76 mm ammunition was eventually used to bring down the four drones during the engagement which in total lasted about an hour.

The Danish Ministry of Defence has stated, on April 3, that General Flemming Lentfer - ironically with a background in the air defences and the Danish HAWK-batteries - has been relieved from his position as Chief of Defence, effective immediately. Major-general Michael Hyldgaard is taking over as acting ChoD, he in turn comes from a position as head of the Danish special forces.

A significant part of the fallout of what quickly is shaping up to be a moderate scandal in Danish politics is the role of the political leadership. Following the engagement, the commanding officer of HDMS Iver Huitfeldt commander (s.g) Sune Lund sent a message on March 13 describing issues with sensors, combat management system, and the 76 mm rounds, and noting that the significant increase in consumption of rounds would "seriously" reduce the combat capability and resilience of the frigate. Following this, the Danish Defence Command and Navy reportedly took immediate action, but Minister of Defence Troels Lund Poulsen told Danish public broadcaster DR that he knew about the issue only after OLFI reported it. A classified document seen by Danish TV 2 does however paint a markedly different story, and states that the MoD was informed as part of a meeting held on March 15, during which it was decided to hold a more detailed briefing on the issue three days later.

Sources to TV 2 state the defence forces now believe the number of rounds failing was significantly smaller than first feared, though on the other hand the issues with the radar and combat management system which have been known about earlier were reportedly more significant than anticipated. A notable detail is that the vessel is equipped with the Thales APAR radar, which also was the primary sensor for the German Sachsen-class frigate Hessen which had issues with its air defence weaponry back in February. Thales have issued a short statement following the Danish reports, saying that preliminary investigation by the Danish authorities "does not indicate a problem with the APAR radar." Another notable report is that spares and equipment - including both 76 mm guns - were borrowed from other Danish vessels before the frigate was sent to the Red Sea. While the HDMS Iver Huitfeldt reportedly passed all tests without issue following the installation of these, it has raised questions about possible problems with the integration of newly installed weapons.

Video of the engagement, showing drone kills with both ESSM and the 76 mm: