Norway's defence secretary Roger Ingebrigtsen and an entourage of military officials visited the F-35 test force at Edwards AFB, California, during the last week of February.

The visit to the desert base comes at a time when Oslo is trying to finalise how many aircraft it will ultimately buy.

"Right now we're in the process where the Norwegian government is about to make a recommendation to their parliament as far as how many F-35s we want to buy and where we should base these aircraft," said Maj Eystein Kvarving, a spokesman for the Norwegian defence ministry, in a press release issued by the US Air Force. "That recommendation is about to four to five weeks out and this is a major issue in Norwegian media and a major issue in the Norwegian public."

The northern European nation has already ordered four aircraft, but might buy as many as 48 conventional take-off and landing examples to replace its Lockheed F-16AM/BM fleet.

Norway is a proponent of NATO's smart defence initiative and has championed pooling together the limited resources available to the European F-35 partners for training and sustainment. Defence minister Espen Barth Eide said during a January visit to Washington DC that discussions for pooling such resources were already underway.

Source: Flight International