Denmark has fired the starting pistol in its contest for a new fighter aircraft , sending out requests for information to four manufacturers .

Officials from the New Combat Aircraft Program have sent what they call Requests for Binding Information ( RBI ) to Boeing for the F/A-18F Super Hornet , to Eurofighter for the Typhoon , to Lockheed Martin for the F-35A and to Saab for the Gripen E, as the country looks to replace its aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons. Dassault and its Rafale have not been invited.

Candidates are expected to return the information in July, with officials due to make a selection on the aircraft in mid-2015 based on the platform ’s ability to be updated during its operational life , its operations and maintenance costs , and also a willingness by the companies to develop industrial relationships with Danish industry .

The new aircraft are likely to enter service between 2020-2024, by which time the Danish F-16s will be up to 45 years old.

“This is a comprehensive and detailed information gathering to help provide the New Combat Aircraft Program with the best possible data base to analyze and evaluate the candidate aircraft on the various assessment areas ,” Danish officials say.

Copenhagen announced in March last year that as part of its defense plan 2013-2017, it would embark on a search for a new fighter aircraft , an initiative originally started in 2005 but shelved in 2010.

Denmark is already a Level 3 signatory to the Joint Strike Fighter program , having signed up in 2002. Indeed, one of its F-16Bs is stationed at Edwards AFB , Calif. , to support the aircraft ’s flight test program . But being a signatory to the program does not oblige it to purchase the aircraft , and Danish industry has reportedly expressed disappointment about the amount of business won from the F-35 program .

Meanwhile, Boeing is planning to send the Super Hornet to the Royal Danish Air Force ’s main airshow at Karup , Denmark on June 22.