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Norway proposes F-35 funding increase for 2016

Building on its release of a Strategic Defence Review publication on 1 October, Norway has proposed a 9.8% real-term defence budget increase for 2016. This would see a near doubling of funding for the Lockheed Martin F-35, plus an authorisation request for six more.

Presented by the government on 7 October, the proposed budget will see the F-35 financially bolstered following the Norwegian chief of defence’s commitment to acquiring a planned 52 conventional take-off and landing F-35As.

The 2016 budget proposal includes a request to authorise procurement of an additional six aircraft, for delivery in 2020. The Norwegian parliament has already authorised the procurement of 22 of the 52 F-35s that Norway plans to procure, covering deliveries up to and including 2019.

“The majority of the increase comes from a near doubling of the funding related to the Norwegian acquisition of the F-35, which ensures that the Norwegian procurement of the F-35 will proceed as planned,” the government says.

“The overall priorities in the government’s budget proposal are in line with the recommendations presented by the chief of defence on 1 October in his strategic military review, and helps increase the defence budget’s share of Norway’s GNP to a projected 1.54%.”

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The F-35 aircraft acquisition, alongside associated infrastructure – namely the development of its new base at Ørland Main Air Station – has been offered an allocation of NKr8.6 billion ($1.05 billion), from the total NKr49 billion (a rise of NKr4.29 billion from 2015 in real terms) proposal for 2016.

“While this proposal includes NKr1.1 billion re-allocated from the 2015 budget due to planned payments that have been postponed, this nevertheless constitutes a near doubling of the 2015 level,” the government says.

Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide adds that the funding for the F-35 and its base at Ørland represents Oslo’s commitment to protecting the nation in light of the security situation in Europe, as well as its ability to deter the use of force against Norway’s NATO allies.

The nation's Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft will also receive additional funding to help bolster the patrol capability of Norway in the high sea, ahead of a planned phasing out of the aircraft between 2017 and 2020.

The budget proposal includes NKr35 million in additional funds for the six-strong Orion fleet, to facilitate longer and more frequent patrols in the high north.

Also included in the proposal is NKr82 million of additional funding to support the deployment of one Lockheed C-130J tactical transport and staff officers to support the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali mission, for an additional 10 months.

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