The Norwegian defence ministry is making a hard push to drive through its planned NKr60 billion ($10.5 billion) purchase of 52 Lockheed Martin F-35As, including four training examples.
The proposed buy forms the centrepiece of Oslo’s new defence White Paper, which sets out its priorities for the period 2013 to 2016. While others (read Australia, Canada, Japan and not least the US Air Force) have voiced concern over price and schedule pressures facing the Joint Strike Fighter, Norway says the aircraft still “represents the best capability for the best value possible”.
Why does Norway want the F-35 so badly? To answer that question, its defence ministry has posted the below video. You can find English language subtitles by clicking on the button marked “CC”.
In a nutshell, plans to fly on its upgraded Lockheed F-16s (currently 47 As and 10 Bs delivered as far back as 1980, as recorded by Flightglobal’s HeliCAS database) have been extended enough times now, with the last jets due to leave service in 2023. Back in the day, that milestone was pegged for no later than 2018.
Norwegian industry also has a keen interest in the F-35 programme. Kongsberg already manufactures parts for the aircraft, and by 2018 will have completed its development work on a Joint Strike Missile anti-ship weapon designed for internal carriage by the stealthy type. That’s a capability that the Royal Norwegian Air Force wants, but that could also prove attractive to other JSF customers.