Norway jet training

Two new Norwegian Air Force F-35s arrived at US Air Force base; Norwegian pilots begin training to fly

Photo: Department of Defense / Wikimedia An F-35A Lightning II jet against a cloudy sky.

Photo: Department of Defense / Wikimedia
An F-35A Lightning II jet against a cloudy sky.

Paul Giblin
The Arizona Republic

Two new Norwegian Air Force F-35 stealth fighter jets touched down at Luke Air Force Base in November, marking the second allied country to commit F-35s to the base’s international pilot training program.

The twin-tailed, matte gray planes flew in from Fort Worth, Texas, where they were manufactured, and were joined mid-flight by two other F-35s assigned to the base in Glendale.

Norwegian Maj. Gen. Morten Klever, the head of his country’s F-35 program, officially accepted the jets.

“It’s a major milestone for the Norwegian armed forces,” Klever said. “This will be the backbone of the Norwegian armed forces for the next 40 years, so starting training here at Luke is very essential to us.”

Every Norwegian F-35 pilot for the next generation is expected to train at the base, Klever said. The first Norwegian F-35 pilot-in-training made his inaugural flight in an F-35 later on the day of delivery.

The two new arrivals bring the total number of F-35A Lightning II jets at Luke to 32. By 2024, the base is scheduled to have 144 F-35s, making it the largest F-35 base worldwide.

Norway is projected to have as many as seven F-35s at Luke. Then starting in 2024, Norway will leave four F-35s at Luke and transfer the others to Norway, Klever said.

The Scandinavian country will acquire as many as 52 of the fighters as it updates its force from older F-16 Fighting Falcons.

“Working in the harsh areas in the high north,” Klever said, “the F-16 that we have today is getting old. Let me say, it’s worn out, and we need to get the F-35 in service as soon as possible.”

Military actions in the future will be conducted with allies, so relationships built at Luke will be critical in coordinating efforts, said Luke commander Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus.

The single-seat, single-engine jet, which is also called the Joint Strike Fighter, is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. It combines radar-evading stealth features with fighter speed and agility, plus fully fused sensor systems that enhance targeting and communications.

It can reach Mach 1.6, which is roughly 1,200 mph, and fly more than 1,400 miles without refueling. Most importantly, it can fly virtually undetected into enemy air space to locate and destroy targets miles away.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 18, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.