The first two Norwegian F-35s arrived at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, on Tuesday 10 November after a flight from their birthplace in Fort Worth, Texas. Shortly after, a Norwegian pilot flew the F-35 Lightning II for the first time, in conjunction with the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s 71st birthday.
Update 12 December 2015: Norway ordered another six F-35s, bringing the total order to 23 aircraft.
The Norwegians are the third nationality to arrive at Luke, apart from the US pilot obviously based there. In December 2014, Australian pilots started training at Luke, followed by Italian pilots just last week. Norway will eventually have seven F-35s stationed at Luke.
Eight other nations will be training alongside the U.S. on the new airframe. Other partner nations that will be joining the U.S., Norway and Australia in the F-35 training program here will be Turkey and the Netherlands, in addition to Foreign Military Sales countries Japan, South Korea and Israel.
“When it comes to the partnership, we see a very good transfer from our experience with the F-16 to the F-35,” said Royal Norwegian air force Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd FS training pilot. “Working with the same and some new partners, will allow us the same benefits. Also, it will allow us to easily integrate and operate together as one force. This is because we train together, we know each other and we keep it very similar.”
Luke currently has 32 F-35s and by 2024, Luke is scheduled to have six fighter squadrons and 144 F-35s.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editors Dennis Spronk and Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Norwegian F-35 at Luke. (Image © US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Marcy Copeland)