Norway's sustained support of the program is a testament of its importance to the Norwegian Armed Forces.
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 F-16 fleet. And 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. See the highlights from that ceremony.
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, and the first F-35s will arrive in Norway in 2017.
Norwegian F-35s will be the first to contain structural provisions for drag chute capability, currently under development by Lockheed Martin and funded by Norway. This missionized pod will be installed on the rear, upper surface of the aircraft, and will deploy to stop Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35s on short, icy runways.
Currently, the Norwegian government has funded the procurement of 22 of 52 F-35s, and subsequent authorization will occur on an annual basis.
While the F-35's capabilities will strengthen the Norwegian Armed Forces, local industry is already benefitting from the program. Kongsberg is developing the Joint Strike Missile for integration in the F-35 to expand capabilities for the anti-surface warfare mission, and an engine depot will be established in Norway, that will allow for future work for Norwegian industry. Other companies are also gaining expertise and knowledge by contributing high-tech components for F-35 production, including advanced composites, aero structures, communications and sensors. These capabilities will grow and expand over the life of the program while fostering a collaborative environment of technology and knowledge sharing among F-35 partner nations.