Norway wants four next-generation fighters by 2016
The Norwegian government plans to purchase four F-35 fighter jets for training purposes, Defense Minister Grete Faremo announced at last weekend’s Labor National Party Congress.
According to the minister, the purchase, which is subject to parliamentary and governmental approval, is a historic moment for Norway.
“Acquisition of the four planes is an important step to maintain a satisfactory operational combat aircraft capacity in the transition phase between the F-16 and F-35,” Faremo said in a press release.
The four jets, costing 4.8 billion kroner, are expected to be delivered by 2016.
However, the ride has been anything but smooth so far. Transactions between manufacturers Lockheed Martin and the Norwegian government have attracted controversy.
Lockheed Martin produces cluster munitions, a ban on which has been signed by Norway. This caused the Oil Fund (Government Pension Fund- Global) to withdraw its stake in the company, but only for ethical reasons. Nevertheless, the government maintained buying a different product from the same manufacturer did not violate the International Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Moreover, WikiLeaks released a cable last year suggesting that Norway allegedly chose Lockheed Martin’s F-35 over the Swedish Saab Gripen jets under sustained pressure from the U.S.
There have also been repeated production holdups, with further delays possible. Last month, the Pentagon Joint Strike Fighter program suspended test flights for a week after one aircraft suffered an in-flight generator failure and oil leak, the Star Telegram reports.
Despite warnings of cost increases from the manufacturer, Faremo estimates the final bill for a total of 56 planes will have increased by an “incremental” 2.5 percent from the initial sum allocated for renewing Norwegian combat airplanes. One billion kroner will be added to the 42 billion presented in the previous parliamentary review.
Source: The Foreigner