Three F-35A stealth fighter jets landed at Orland Air Base in Norway on Tuesday, bringing the total number of F-35s delivered to the Royal Norwegian Air Force to six, the defense ministry said.
The F-35A is one of three variants of Lockheed Martin’s multirole stealth fighter. The F-35A’s conventional takeoff system is designed for traditional air force bases. The joint strike fighter is the second fifth-generation fighter to be introduced into service.
22. mai kl. 20.50 landet tre nye F-35 kampfly på Ørland flystasjon. Forsvaret har nå seks fly stasjonert på norsk jord. – Våre nye kampfly er en stor investering og det viktigste tiltaket for å styrke kampkraften til Forsvaret, sier forsvarsminister Frank Bakke-Jensen. pic.twitter.com/eIByvMYLak
— Forsvarsdepartement (@Forsvarsdep) May 22, 2018
Norway chose the F-35 in 2008 to replace its F-16 fleet and plans to put F-35s into service in 2019. The U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency approved the delivery of the latest batch into Orland. Under the acquisition plan, Norway will receive six new F-35s every year until 2024, according to the defense ministry, or Forsvarsdepartement.
“Our new fighter is a great investment and the most important initiative in strengthening the battle force of the armed forces,” Norway’s Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said after the three jets were delivered. The RNAF has designated the new aircraft AM-11, AM-12 and AM-13.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force received three F-35s and a Full Mission Simulator in November for training purposes, as part of the Norwegian government’s plan to purchase up to 52 F-35s. The RNAF has seven of the fighter jets at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona as part of a U.S. Air Force training program for Norwegian pilots.
Israel on Tuesday claimed to be the first country to use an F-35 in combat for cross-border strikes in the Middle East.
The F-35 had a rocky development, notably worrying the U.S. Congress House Armed Services Committee prior to its export. The project went over schedule and over budget, and the final product worries some experts who focus on the F-35’s interoperability and ability to match peers in air combat.
China and Russia are also pursuing the development of fifth-generation fighters: China produces the J-20 stealth fighter, which uses a fourth-generation engine, while Russia plans to introduce its Sukhoi-57 into service in 2019. Other countries already committed to purchasing F-35s include the United Kingdom and Japan, although recently Japan expressed interest in a F-22/F-35 hybrid instead.