Graham Warwick/ATLANTA

Norway has been briefed formally on the US Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), as a potential candidate for its next combat-aircraft purchase. The Royal Norwegian Air Force is looking to replace its Northrop F-5s and is already evaluating the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter EF2000, Lockheed Martin F-16, McDonnell Douglas F-18 and Saab JAS39 Gripen.

The JSF is planned to emerge from the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) programme, and is intended to replace, among other aircraft, the US Air Force's F-16s. Development is scheduled to begin in 2001, with first deliveries in 2008. Norway is planning an F-5-replacement decision by 1998 and first deliveries by 2004, seemingly too late for the JSF, unless Norway delays selection.

Norway requested additional information on the JSF after F-16 operators were briefed on the programme by US Air Force acquisition chief Gen George Muellner. JAST programme manager Adm Craig Steidle travelled to Norway to give the detailed briefing.

Norway plans to replace its F-5s initially, but the chosen aircraft is expected to replace its F-16A/Bs eventually. Belgium and the Netherlands are in the early stages of drawing up requirements to replace their F-16s from around 2010. The UK is now the only offshore nation in the JAST concept-demonstration programme, but foreign partners may be sought for the JSF development phase from 2001.

Source: Flight International