Norway intends to spend NKr1.78 billion ($300 million) in 2013 on its Lockheed Martin F-35A acquisition under its proposed defence budget, enabling it to receive its first Joint Strike Fighter in 2015.

Still to be debated by the Norwegian parliament, the budget proposal - published on 8 October - is nonetheless likely to be approved in December, the Norwegian defence ministry says. It envisages Oslo receiving its first F-35A around two years later.

Defence minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen says: "I am particularly pleased that we have been able to secure significant funding for the F-35 for 2013 that will allow us to move forward on our plans to receive the first aircraft by 2015."

The Royal Norwegian Air Force plans to acquire as many as 52 conventional take-off and landing F-35As for around NKr60 billion.

Also contained in the spending plan is funding for the air force's continued acquisition of maritime helicopters, to replace its AgustaWestland Lynx fleet.

However, although Norway is shortly to receive its second NH Industries NH90 helicopter, a row over the reliability of the type continues to threaten the future of the contract.

Olso has a total of 14 NH90s on order: six for the air force and eight for the navy. However, the Norwegian defence ministry remains outspoken over problems with the new aircraft.

Although it has set a date of 1 November for its next delivery, it notes: "There have been many quality issues with the second helicopter."

Production of NH90s is split between the two biggest partners in NH Industries - Eurocopter and AgustaWestland. The examples for Norway are manufactured in Italy by the latter airframer.

Norway's defence ministry notes: "The quality issues are not only with one partner in NHI [and] we have had several high-level meetings with NHI as contract partner with regards to lack of deliveries." It denies that a preliminary deal has been struck with Sikorsky to take six SH-60 Seahawks as an alternative to the remaining NH90s.

"The Seahawk from Sikorsky is one alternative. We are still conducting studies with regards to alternatives, but we have not entered into any contracts with other companies so far," the defence ministry says.

Source: Flight International