Washington, D.C.: Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide today met the head of the US combat aircraft programme, Lieutenant General Bogdan. “It is important for the programme to keep up the good progress and continue the work of preparing for receipt of the first aircraft in Europe,” the defence minister said after the meeting.
Lt Gen Bogdan leads the multinational F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO). “He is a key force in maintaining the tempo of the fighter aircraft programme – both for the United States and for the partner countries who purchase the F-35. I praised his solid leadership, because good headway has been achieved under his leadership,” says the defence minister.
“At the same time, my message to Bogdan was that Norway is reliant on this good progress being maintained, and on the programme’s helping to establish a common support infrastructure for the F -35 in Europe,” says Eriksen Søreide.
Combat aircraft important for Norway
During the meeting, the defence minister presented an update on the status of the Norwegian fighter aircraft procurement, and stressed that the investment in new aircraft will enhance our ability as an ally to contribute to the common defence and crisis management.
“This is one of the most important elements of the continued modernisation of the entire defence sector, and it’s something I personally will follow very intently,” says Eriksen Søreide.
To the JPO, Norway has emphasised the need to integrate both the aircraft’s drag parachute, which is essential for operations in Norway, and the Norwegian-developed Joint Strike Missile (JSM). “Bogdan has supported Norway in this work, and he promised to continue to focus on this further. His efforts in these areas will be important in the time ahead as well,” says Eriksen Søreide.
Meeting with Norwegians
Norway contributes 10 people to the multinational F-35 programme. The main duty for two of them is to represent Norway and promote Norwegian interests. The others provide technical expertise to the programme. The defence minister met the Norwegian personnel during her visit to the JPO and took the opportunity to stress that relations with the US are of great significance to Norway. “You are at the heart of a programme that will help set the tone for Norwegian-American cooperation well into the future. It makes the job you are doing here, as Norwegian representatives and as part of the programme, even more important,” says Eriksen Søreide.
“You have an important role to play in keeping ‘a finger on the pulse’ of the programme for those of us at home in Norway, and providing insight we would not have had if we were sitting outside. This is crucial when making investments so large and so essential as a new fighter aircraft capacity,” Eriksen Søreide concludes.
Facts about Norway’s F-35 procurement:
- Norway will purchase up to 52 F-35 combat aircraft to ensure that the Norwegian Armed Forces will be able to continue performing missions in the best possible way.
- The procurement is estimated to cost NOK 64 billion in real 2014 kroner. The overall Norwegian cost estimates have been stable since 2008.
- The decision to purchase the first four F-35s, which are to be used for training of Norwegian crews, was taken in 2011. The first two of these are to be delivered in the United States in 2015, and the second two in 2016.
- As of January 2014, the Storting has authorised the purchase of 16 aircraft in total as well as additional equipment, including weapons, simulators and maintenance equipment.