Norway signed the contract for the first two Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft on Friday September 27, 2013. Oslo pays USD 98 million per plane.
The Norwegian Ministry of Defence says to be delighted by the cost reduction of 6 percent compared to the almost 70 Joint Strike Fighters already produced by the American manufacturer. Earlier the price tag was way above 100 million dollar per aircraft.
Meanwhile Oslo is looking for ways to find another 2 billion dollar to beef up the order to the 52 F-35s the Royal Norwegian Air Force is planned to field. So far the Norwegian parliament already agreed to purchase the first six F-35s.
With the introduction of the new combat fighter aircraft Norway will likely limit its main operating bases to Ørland alone. The base west of the city of Trondheim in the south of the country is deemed to have the best strategic location and the advantage that its position is relatively remote from urban areas.
Like Sweden Norway will likely adapt a system of forward operating detachments, with a small fighter force of four to six aircraft deployed to Bodø. This location in the north is currently still a main operating base for the RNoAF F-16s.
Sola, on the southwestern mainland of Norway, is already a secondary base for a forward operating detachment in times of need. It also serves as NATOs tanker and support airfield if the situation for it arises.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger
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