The Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft fleets have reached over 10.000 flight hours, the service announced.
The first two aircraft started flying at Luke Air Force Base in USA in November 2015. This week also marked 4000 flight hours for the fleet in Norwegian airspace.
The Norwegian F-35s have reach over 10.000 flighthours since the first two aircraft started flying at Luke Airforce Base in November 2015. This week they also reached 4000 flight hours in Norwegian airspace. pic.twitter.com/C7lzhS7XL4
— Luftforsvaret (@Luftforsvaret) August 22, 2020
Norway joined the F-35 program as a partner in the System Development and Demonstration phase. In November 2008, the Norwegian government selected the F-35 as the replacement for the Royal Norwegian Air Force (Luftforsvaret) F-16 fleet.
In September 2015, the first F-35A was unveiled before Norwegian and U.S. government officials and Lockheed Martin leadership at a formal ceremony at the Lockheed Martin production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
Norwegian F-35 fleet is the first to contain structural provisions for drag chute capability, developed by Lockheed Martin and funded by Norway. This missionized pod installed on the rear, upper surface of the aircraft, will be deployed to stop F-35s on short, icy runways.
The first two jets for Norway delivered to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, in late 2015, where they are being used for pilot training. The first Norwegian F-35 pilots began training at Luke AFB in September 2015. The first Norwegian F-35s arrived in-country for permanent basing at Ørland Air Base in November 2017.
In November last year, Norway became the third European country to declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for its F-35 jets, after the United Kingdom and Italy.
By 2022, the RNoAF will have built up enough F-35s, pilots and maintainers in the country to let the F-35 take over the “quick reaction alert” (QRA) mission, which calls for operators to stand on a 24/7 alert and scramble, if needed, to intercept aircraft flying near Norwegian airspace. These F-35s will be ready for air-policing in Evenes, Northern Norway.
Norway plans to buy 52 F-35A Lightning II jets. Currently, the Norwegian government has funded the procurement of 40 of 52 F-35s, and subsequent authorization will occur on an annual basis. The jets are to be based in Ørland Air Station (main location) and from 2022 also in Evenes Air Station.