Nordic Lightning Ordered

Norway’s defense ministry authorized the purchase of the country’s first two F-35 strike fighters, announced Norwegian defense minister Espen Barth Eide. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved Norway’s request to integrate the indigenously developed Joint Strike Missile into the F-35, paving the way for the formal purchase deal on June 15. “For the first time in three decades we are now ordering new combat aircraft for the armed forces,” said Eide that same day in the release heralding the F-35. In addition, “we will begin preparations for the final phase of Joint Strike Missile development after receiving confirmation from US authorities of their support,” he noted. The estimated $4.2 billion deal for as many as 52 F-35 is Norway’s largest defense acquisition in history, states the release. Most of the fleet will be based at Ørland in central Norway, with a small quick-reaction alert force detached to the country’s far north. The initial aircraft are slated for delivery in 2016, reported Reuters.