Another milestone for the Norwegian F-35 Lightning II program was reached Oct. 6. At 5:05 p.m. Norwegian time, the first Norwegian F-35 took off from the factory in Fort Worth, Texas. This is the first of several test flights that will lead toward the formal delivery to Norway.
Minister of Defense, Ine Eriksen Søreide is satisfied the Armed Forces is one step closer to training with the new aircraft.
The first Norwegian aircraft will be delivered at both the right price, and time Søreide said.
“Yesterday’s test flight shows that the program is on track, and it is an important confirmation to get before the Parliament decides on the next round of procurement of F-35s,” he said.
The pilot was Bill Gigliotti from Lockheed Martin. The flight lasted one hour and 32 minutes and tested the engine and control systems. Over the next few weeks, the first and second Norwegian aircraft will go through a series of test flights before they are moved in November to Luke Air Force Base.
Maj. Gen. Morten Klever is the program director of the fighter program and is responsible for the Norwegian procurement of the F-35. He underlined the importance of the preparations currently underway before receiving the first aircraft in two years.
Several other buyer countries of the F-35 envision a more gradual transition from the current fighter aircraft to the F-35.
“We do not have that opportunity because the current F-16 is about to reach its end of life,” Klever said. “Although the Norwegian procurement of the F-35 will last for nearly 10 years, it will be accomplished in a shorter timeframe than in other countries. We are entering an exciting new phase when the F-35 begins to conduct missions at home in 2019.”