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Norwegian government gives the thumbs up for its F-35 program

June 15, 2012, Oslo, Norway - Norway today commenced the largest public procurement project in its history. The event was marked by Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide authorizing the order for the first F-35A Lightning II for the Norwegian Armed Forces.


June 15, 2012
By Carey Fredericks

We have today made two critical decisions. For the first time in three
decades we are now ordering new combat aircraft for the Armed Forces.
Additionally, we will begin preparations for the final phase of Joint
Strike Missile (JSM) development after receiving confirmation from US
authorities of their support for the integration of the missile into the
F-35, says Norwegian Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide.

This marks a key milestone in the Norwegian F-35 programme and the
beginning of the largest public procurement in Norwegian history. The
F-35, which Norway selected in 2008, represents a completely new
generation of combat aircraft that will form a corner stone of the
future Norwegian Armed Forces, says Minister of Defence Espen Barth
Eide.

 

Confirmation of JSM integration support was provided in a letter from
US Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta to Norwegian Minister of Defence
Espen Barth Eide earlier this week.

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Securing such support has been an important precondition for many
of our partner nations before they would themselves commit to supporting
the JSM. With such support finally in place there is now a significant
potential for the missile among future operators of the F-35.
Preparations for the final phase of procurement will therefore begin
now, says Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide.

 

The Norwegian-developed JSM represents one of the most advanced
weapons available within its category, and will further enhance the
operational capabilities of the F-35. Total market potential for the JSM
is estimated to be between NOK 20 and 25 billion/USD 3.3 and 4.2
billion.

 

The two aircraft authorized today are expected to be joined by a
second pair in 2016, and will be based in the United States as part of a
joint partner training centre. They are to be followed by up to 48
additional aircraft from 2017 that are to be based at Ørland Main Air
Station in central Norway. A small forward operating base will also be
based at Evenes in northern Norway to provide quick reaction alert (QRA)
services in the high north. An estimated 10% of the overall force
generation will also be carried out from the Evenes FOB.

The overall cost of the procurement phase of the project is estimated
at NOK 60 billion/USD 10 billion (2012 value) in real terms.

 

The decision to centralise the combat aircraft force at Ørland was
approved when the Norwegian Parliament approved the new Defence White
Paper on the 14th of June. This paper also confirmed the overall
ambition for up to 52 F-35s for the Norwegian Armed Forces. Norway will
over the coming years see a budget increase of 7% by 2016 through
redistribution of funds freed up by the withdrawal from Afghanistan and
the addition of significant supplementary funds for the F-35 purchase.

 

Norway's parliament yesterday approved a significant increase in
defence spending in order to finance the purchase and to increase the
general operating budget of the Armed Forces. At the same time, the
Parliament has shown courage in making tough but necessary decisions in
order to continue the work to rationalize the base infrastructure. This
means that the positive development we have seen in the Norwegian Armed
Forces over the past four years will continue, concludes Minister of
Defence Espen Barth Eide.