All of the aircraft are scheduled to land at Orland Air Force Station on Thursday, while the Nordic nation will receive an additional three more of the advanced fifth-generation fighters this fall. Norway’s program of record is for 52 F-35 aircraft – and to date, 31 have already been delivered.
“The F-35 program is solid and mature. This is also highlighted by the fact that the users together have already accumulated more than 650 thousand flight hours. More than 20 thousand of these hours are in Norwegian aircraft based at Luk, Orland, and Evenes, and the program was a great success for Norway,” explained Colonel Egil Sorstronen, who is the Norwegian head of the US F-35 Multinational Program Office [JPO].
The Royal Norwegian Air Force currently operates a unique F-35A variant aircraft that is equipped with a drag chute to assist with landing in icy and slick conditions and to reduce landing distance on short airfields.
It is unclear if any of the new F-35s set to arrive in Norway will take part in this month’s bi-annual cross-border Arctic Challenge that sees some 14 nations take part in the massive Nordic air force drills. The event – hosted by Finland, Sweden, and Norway – will kick off at four different military air bases on May 29.
This year’s Arctic Challenge will include daily combat training in the skies involving some 140 aircraft. In addition to Norwegian F-35s, a number of Lightning IIs from the United States and Italy take part in the exercises, flying alongside the Czech Republic’s and Sweden’s JAS Gripen fighters.
Another F-35 Partner to be Disclosed
Last week, Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35, was preparing to integrate an “undisclosed” nation into the fifth-generation aircraft program.
According to a report from Flight Global, the company “landed a contract” worth more than $25 million through the United States Department of Defense (DoD) on May 3 for “support of an undisclosed country’s integration as a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customer into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.”
The particular country wasn’t named, but it was an existing F-35 FMS customer – meaning it could only be one of the 17 nations currently operating or planning to operate the aircraft. Eight nations – the USA, the UK, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, and Norway – are founding partners, meaning they have shared the cost of designing and producing the fifth-generation aircraft.
Currently, the non-founding FMS customers of Israel, Japan, and South Korea have all received F-35 aircraft – while Belgium, Poland, Singapore, Finland, Germany, and Switzerland have not.
As Flight Global added, the DoD contract announcement cites “integration” – which typically occurs prior to aircraft deliveries. That would suggest the customer nation seems likely to be among buyers that have yet to field F-35s.
Whichever of the partners is further integrated into the program will likely be disclosed soon. More importantly, it will certainly ensure continued support for what remains the world’s most advanced fighter.
It was also last week that Lockheed Martin announced that it had received a $7.8 billion contract to supply 126 F-35 Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft to the U.S. and its allies by August 2026. The F-35 continues to look quite unstoppable.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.