Norway Buys 4 JSFs, Pitches New Missile

PARIS AIR SHOW -- So in today's big JSF story at the show Rear Adm. Arne Roksun, Norway's chief defense planner unveiled the fact that Norway's parliament just last week gave the green light for the Norwegian air force to buy four F-35As for pilot training for 4.8 billion Norwegian Kroner. The jets will be delivered in 2016 and Norway plans to house them at the JSF schoolhouse at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, said Roksun during a press conference here.

He even said that despite all the recent change with the JSF program "it's still the Norwegian government's intention to procure the F-35 and next year, the government plans to present the comprehensive F-35 program to the parliament; that is, the total number and basing [plan] for the aircraft."

Still he warned that all parties involved "very much" need to focus on "cost, time schedule and performance."

"What influences the cost most for Norway is if U.S. procurement amounts are changing," added Roksun. "So, stability and increased predictability in the planned U.S. acquisition of aircraft is therefore important to a small partner like Norway.

However, the Roksun made a serious pitch for his country's stealthy Joint Strike Missile and some new all-purpose ammunition for integration onto the F-35 when its Block IV, yes, Block IV, software is introduced in 2019.

As the admiral put it, the weapons is are fairly ambitious undertaking for a relatively small country and he asked for help from the U.S. in developing the weapon, (namely, we buy it and get the other F-35 partners to buy it). 

Roksun explained that this is how Norway hopes to recoup some of the costs of buying one of the most advanced fighters in the world.

"The Norwegian political objective to achieve an industrial return of value equal to the procurement transfer, in my view the purchase of the F-35 is closely linked to our national development of the Joint Strike Missile," said Roksun. "Norway's area of interest consist of enormous land and sea areas and it's therefore important to have a long-range precision strike missile with both land and sea capabilities."

He then said many other F-35 partner nations have such needs and that Norway can't develop the weapon alone.

"The size and complexity of the process to complete development of the weapon on the F-35 is a major undertaking for a small nation, active support from relevant F-35 partner nations is therefore vital.

Roksun noted that the U.S.  Navy is currently eying the JSM in an analysis of alternatives for its 21s century air to surface munitions. However, without customer commitments in the relatively near future, Norway may have to abandon the project by 2014.

He went on to say that Norway needs the missile by the time its F-35s reach IOC in 2019.  

U.S. F-35 deputy program manager Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore also confirmed during the same presser that the U.S. expects to receive its first two production model F-35As at Eglin in a matter of days, something that will mark a serious milestone in the life of the program.

All Moore would say about the JSM is that the JSF program office would look at the weapon as it asses "all potential candidates for Block IV." He was referring to a group of weapons that may be integrated onto the airplane when its Block IV software comes online toward the end of this decade.

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