The Norwegian and UK Ministries of Defence have today agreed to cooperate more closely on the future operation of the F-35 Lightning II in Europe. Operating within the wider framework of European F-35 partner nation cooperation, and building on an MOU on closer bi-lateral cooperation between the UK and Norwegian Ministries of Defence signed in March 2012, the two nations will look for specific areas within technical maintenance and sustainment, as well as within training of pilots and technical personnel, where both can benefit from a closer relationship.
The F-35 will be a major and significant acquisition for both nations. For the UK, the fifth generation Lightning II will offer a step change in the UK’s combat air capability & will be central to our ability to project air power across the globe from land and sea. For Norway the F-35 represents a significant investment in defence capabilities for the coming four decades, and reflects its continued strategic focus on the high north.
Both nations are encouraged by recent progress in the development and manufacture of the F-35, and are eager to build solutions that leverage off the JSF’s Global Support Solution whilst also supporting the specific Introduction into Service needs of partner nation’s air forces. Both agree that it is of vital importance that a capable, adequate and affordable sustainment solution is in place to support the first European F-35s when they begin arriving in Europe in the second half of this decade. The pooling and sharing of resources and maintenance capabilities is already at the heart of the support strategy for operating the F-35, and the UK and Norwegian Ministries of Defence are both looking to see where further national synergies may exist. In this context, both Governments are encouraging UK and Norwegian industry to explore collaborative opportunities for cooperation in support and sustainment of our common F-35 fleet. From a Norwegian perspective, maintenance of the F-135 engine would be a candidate, where it would like to play a role through entities such as the state-owned enterprise AIM Norway.
“This will be the first time in nearly 60 years that Norway and the UK will operate a similar type of fighter aircraft, and this naturally opens up new possibilities for cooperation”, says Norwegian State Secretary Eirik-Øwre Thorshaug.
Mr Thorshaug met his UK counterpart, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Phillip Dunne in London on 5 September 2013. On the same day, Norwegian and UK subject matter experts met to discuss potential areas of cooperation.
Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne said:
“Whilst many decisions have yet to be made which will define the totality of the UK’s JSF programme, it is clear that coordination and cooperation with like minded allies such as Norway will offer many advantages in terms of shared knowledge, best practice and efficiencies. The UK looks forward to exploring possibilities for collaboration on our approach to through life support and capability development with Norway over the coming years.”
Norwegian F-35s will begin arriving at Ørland Main Air Station from 2017. These will be among the first operational F-35s to arrive in Europe, and will begin the work of building an initial operating capability for 2019. The UK expect to receive frontline aircraft in the US from 2016 onwards with the first UK-based operations planned from RAF Marham in 2018.
Norwegian Ministry of Defence press contact:
Mr Endre Lunde
F-35 Program Office, Norwegian Ministry of Defence
Phone: +47 23 09 65 07
Mob: +47 908 53 270
UK Ministry of Defence press contact:
Mr Andrew Enston
MoD Press Officer - Equipment
Tel: +44 (0) 207 218 3258