The Norwegian Government has asked for new budget authorizations for a total value of $1 billion for the acquisition of six new F-35 fighter aircraft and additional equipment and services for 2015.
Including these aircraft, the New Fighter Aircraft program will have been authorized to acquire 22 of the new aircraft, with deliveries to begin by the end of next year.
“As we now have initiated a much needed review of the structure and readiness of the Armed Forces, and there is no doubt that the events of the past year have led to the conclusion that new combat aircraft are now more important than ever. The F-35 will therefore be a key priority for the government in the years ahead,” says Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.
By 2015, Norway will acquire up to 52 new F-35A fighters together with a number of support systems and weapons, among them the Norwegian Joint Strike Missile (JSM). This provision ensures that the Armed Forces for the first time will have a real ability to both find and engage well-defended targets at long distances. Any future adversary will thus have to recognize that, in a very different way than at present, that the use of force against Norway can be both risky and very expensive, according to a MoD statement.
The Minister pointed out that the new aircraft will also be better able to support other parts of national defense than the F-16.
“The new combat aircraft are an important contribution to our future defense and also are better able to support other defense components than their predecessors. By securing the airspace in the face of advanced future threats, by obtaining and sharing information, and by providing fire support in all types of weather conditions, these new aircraft will improve the entire defense posture,” the minister said.
In late September, representatives of the nine partners in the F-35 program met in Oslo, and confirmed that the development of the F-35 is on track. Although there are still challenges in the program, the defense minister confirmed the Norwegian procurement.
“This is still a development program, and things will show up as the test program makes progress. The program also shows that they now have good processes to handle these issues when they happen. I think that the status is good, both in development in the United States and in program at home,” Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide concluded.