The Norwegian government has confirmed plans to acquire up to 52 Lockheed Martin F-35A combat aircraft, and submitted a formal request to the nation's parliament for its first six operational examples.
The administration in Oslo has already committed to buying four conventional take-off and landing aircraft, to be delivered in 2014 and 2015 for use during training activities in the USA. On 26 April, defence minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen outlined its fresh request to buy 48 more, for delivery between 2017 and 2024.
Under the proposal, six aircraft would be handed over to Norway each year throughout the delivery period, although this will be subject to the receipt of annual approvals from parliament.
US Air Force
Norway says the F-35A is the only type capable of meeting its requirements
"By making this commitment we are able to proceed with our plans to replace the [Lockheed] F-16 fleet around 2020," Strøm-Erichsen says. "We have concluded convincingly that the F-35 is the only aircraft that fulfils our future operational requirements. Our F-16s are among the world's most capable aircraft of their kind, but they are also among the world's oldest."
Flightglobal's MiliCAS database records the Royal Norwegian Air Force's 47 F-16AM fighters and 10 BM-model trainers as having entered use between 1980 and 1989.
The government has valued its initial acquisition request at NKr12.9 billion ($2.2 billion), with this including the first six aircraft, plus initial actions to procure "additional equipment and services, including integration work, training and simulators". Also included is an "uncertainty allowance" contingency worth a further NKr3 billion.
Strøm-Erichsen says Norway has also received a recent assurance about the process for adding Kongsberg's Joint Strike Missile (JSM) to its aircraft as part of a Block 4 software programme. "This means that the road is now open for final and complete integration of the JSM on the F-35," she notes.