Count Us In

The multinational F-35 stealth fighter program has gotten a boost with last week’s decision by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence to recommend the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft to the nation’s parliament as the preferred option to be Norway’s future fighter capability. This came after an evaluation of it against the Saab Gripen NG model. According to a release Nov. 24 from the office of the Norwegian prime minister, the F-35 is the “only candidate” that fulfils the country’s operational requirements. It is also offered at a comparably lower price. In the same statement, Norwegian Minister of Defence Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen said Norway had deemed the F-35 the better candidate for “intelligence and surveillance, counterair, air interdiction, and anti-surface warfare. The F-35 program will also offer “substantial opportunities for Norwegian industry,” she said. With the decision, Norway joins seven of the eight international F-35 partners that have completed their future fighter analysis and identified the F-35 as the preferred option. The lone outlier is Denmark, which is still conducting its own competition and is expected to announce its decision next year. “We’re very pleased with the announcement and are committed to supporting the Norwegian government in moving forward with the F-35,” said Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and manager of F-35 program integration, in a Lockheed release Nov. 21. Norway plans to acquire 48 F-35s to replace its F-16s, with first delivery planned in 2016. Israel, which is not involved in the aircraft’s development, also intends to acquire the F-35.