Norway could buy 12 more Lockheed Martin F-35As for delivery in 2021 and 2022 under a new spending plan submitted to Parliament.
The proposal, if approved, would raise the total number of authorised F-35A purchases to 40 aircraft, or only 12 short of the Norwegian air force’s requirement.
The requested authorisation also would allow Norway to participate in a proposed “block buy” for the F-35’s US and international partners.
The F-35 Joint Programme Office is working to package purchases of hundreds of F-35s spread over two or three years from 2018 to 2020 into a single order commitment.
In the process, the JPO has to tap dance around US government policies that prohibit a “multi-year procurement” until after a weapons programme completes initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E). The F-35 is not scheduled to complete IOT&E until at least 2018.
Unlike a multi-year procurement, a block buy does not lock the US or international partners into firm orders, but it gives Lockheed’s supply chain a long-term view of likely demand.
The JPO hopes to translate that long-term commitment into $2 billion in cost savings over the three-year term.
Norway is the first F-35 customer to request authorisation to enter a block buy.