Norway has declared initial operational readiness for its F-35 fighter aircraft.

In a ceremony at Rygge Air Defence Base last week, Major General Skinnarland underlined that this declaration represents a milestone in the process of integrating the fifth generation aircraft into the Norwegian Air Force. The Norwegian Defence Minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen, congratulated the country’s air force on achieving this important operational capability.

In November 2017, the first Norwegian F-35 aircraft landed in Norway. Today the Norwegian Air Force has 15 fighter aircraft in the country and another seven in the United States; all aircraft are undergoing thorough tests, flights and evaluations to ensure they are mission-ready.

According to NATO:

“During the first quarter of 2020, Norwegian F-35 fighter aircraft will be launching their first NATO peacetime mission safeguarding Icelandic airspace out of Keflavik Air Base. This deployment will mark another test for the modern fighter aircraft in an Alliance context. The first-ever participation of F-35 in a NATO mission occurred in the fall of 2019, when Italy deployed the platform to Iceland.”

The Norwegian Air Force F-35 fleet will operate from three bases in Norway: Ørland as the main base, Evenes as the advanced base in the north, and Rygge Air Defence Base as the operational base in the south.

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Cam

How come Norway has more F35s in USA and almost as many in Norway as the UK has. Also will we be operating all our F35s from RAF Marham for the life of the program yeah? It’ll b pretty packed when we get the numbers upto near hundred won’t it. If only we could open an old RN base or even base them at culdrose or Yeovil.

Joe16

Well, they’re F-35As rather than Bs. They were ready (IOC) earlier and cheaper to buy so easier/more palatable to get them quicker. Also, if I recall, we gave up some early slots to the USMC. This got us good will, so they could get their IOC earlier, and we end up in the long run with fewer aircraft with pre-block 3&4 software, which would have cost us even more to upgrade to combat capability. If we hadn’t done this, we’d likely have roughly the same number of aircraft as Norway as far as I can work out. As far as… Read more »

Pete

Plenty of fast jets at lossie….

Joe16

Ah, good to know! I thought they only had Tornadoes, which were being retired- are they being replaced with Typhoon?

Pete

4 typhoon squadrans of which 1 is dedicated QRA…. Busy base.
😀

Steve R

I wouldn’t have any issue with the slow buy rate of the F35, had we retained the Tornado GR4 until 2025 as originally planned. Replace them with F35b one squadron at a time, rather than just disband entire squadrons for a period of years. I’m sure it’s not saving anything in the long run.

Robert blay

Retiring the Tornado has allowed more money to be allocated to upgrades to the Typhoon, and F35. And our Tornados where knackered, and becoming increasingly expensive to operate and maintain. It had a fantastic 40 year career, but the the investment needs to go to our future Typhoon/F35 force.

Steve R

You’re right of course, it’s just galling that we retired them with no replacement due for a number of years until we’re at full strength with the F35s, during which time our Typhoons will have to pick up the slack, putting more strain on their airframes and probably resulting in us losing a number of those for parts before their time.

We need more investment in our Typhoons for sure: ideally another 40 or so to replace the Tranche 1s and also keeps the production going until Tempest.

Cam

Atleast we have drones to pick up some of the slack, and hopefully doubling their numbers soon too.

Cam

Hi Joe16, cheers for info. F35s were originally planned for Lossiemouth, Lossiemouth is QRA focused and fast jet with multiple typhoon squadrons based there, and then the new p8s. But a couple f35 squadrons based at Old RAF leauchers for training and what not would be great giving scotland a much needed second RAF base, can’t see it though, too far from South.

Joe16

And thanks for yours too- I didn’t know QRA was based at Lossiemouth as well as maritime patrol! To be honest, I don’t see much point in putting F-35 in Scotland unless they’re used for QRA and/or get a serious maritime strike capability that would threaten large Russian surface combatants (not just Brimstone, something like JSM). A training base would make sense, if anything, for sure. But otherwise, it’s a long way from anywhere they’d need to go to operate (rendezvous with carrier / heading for Middle East or elsewhere). To be honest, I suggested the north east of England… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Joe

RAF Leeming was once an active fighter station with 3 squadrons of Tornado F3.
A fine possibility for your facility in the North East.
It is still used by the RAF for varied ground units ( mainly 90 SU ) and has HAS and all the infrastructure for fighters if the will was there. ( as does Leuchars )

If the RAF’s fighter forces needed dispersing in a major war there are just two examples there.

As for a training base for F35’s, I don’t see it as necessary myself.

Joe16

Morning mate, there we go, makes for a good potential location! I’m not sure whether an RAF base is really what the north east needs (greater investment in industry is probably what they’re really hurting for), but it’d be a good start and a statement of intent that the whole of the country has the potential to be productive contributors to UK wealth. Alongside Cam, I’m not sure what the capacity for Marham is, but 50-odd F-35, at times surging to ~75 when aircraft return from a carrier is a lot to fit on a base. It may be that… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Afternoon Mate. I’m with you. I believe all regions should have equal investment. One must take into account population in the South East though. For example, and totally non related to defence, I supported the new national stadium to be outside Coventry, not Wembley. Would have been central to the nation, next to motorway interchanges for easy access. Instead, it’s rebuilt in London, with all the problems with traffic and access for those to the north that brings. I’d also support greater investment in industry. I don’t agree with the Tory obsession with dismantling it. ( I have both left… Read more »

Cam

Hi Daniele, I spend hours scouting the UK on GE, it’s great, and there are old air and millitray bases everywhere, and the sheer amount of old dry dicks all over the nation (easily spotted on GE) is astonishing and shows how huge it once was. I never get bored on GE, I was looking at RAF mount pleasants development and the falklands as a whole today, interesting stuff., if you like that kind of thing that is.

Cam

Dam it! Dry docks not “Dicks”!

Daniele Mandelli

😂

Daniele Mandelli

Indeed Cam. Shame you’re the other end of Britain to me, I could show you some interesting details.

Joe16

I’ll have to take a look, it amazes me the level of detail that you can see with commercial satellites these days! Like you, I’m fairly centrist from the perspective of viewing some things through a “right”lense and some through a “left”; protecting Britain’s industry is one of those things that I definitely shift to the left on. What baffles me is that there was no reason for it, other than a fair amount of laziness/ignorance/carelessness and some economic ideology that is a little shaky in its justification. People forget that it was both conservative and Labour governments that utilised… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I have had too many, so not starting again.

I was for HS2, now, for the eye watering costs, I am against.

And yes, I know why it is required, capacity on WCML and so on. I’m still against. Spend half of the money on infrastructure elsewhere.

Joe16

Exactly, I’ve no problem with the principle of HS2. But focus some proper investment in the north and stop the London-centric view of the economy and that will ease the strain on the WCML and bring more money into the treasury. Then we can have a look at overhauling the rail network more generally.

Daniele Mandelli

Neither RNAS Culdrose or RNAS Yeovilton have HAS, I’d consider it very unlikely given the expenditure needed.

Marham at one time had 4 GR4 units. I doubt the UK will have more than 4 front line squadrons, plus the OCU and OEU.

Maybe Norway has a quicker buy rate than us? I’ve no idea. Good luck to them. Also they have the A.

Maybe some will end up sharing with USVF at Lakenheath? Maybe some will go to Coningsby?

Far, far too early to say. But I think Marham will be the sole station.

DaveyB

The other problem with the B model in particular is the noise it generates when in the hover. So older airbases that have fallen in to disuse will probably have the surrounding areas built up with housing. I could see a lot of complaints coming. You would need a base that is miles from any village or large civilian housing area. Yeovilton would still be ok, but Cauldrose would be tricky.

Daniele Mandelli

I had read the noise exceeds that of a Harrier? Is this true?

Reminds me of the noise a squadron of Sea Harriers made when lined up in the hover for the crowd, above the Runway at Mildenhall at one of their Air Fete’s in the 90’s.

Awesome.

Robert blay

Having seen it display at RIAT the other year, I’d say it was definitely louder then the Harrier in the Hover, and much louder when it takes off conventionally with it’s huge afterburner. Amazing engineering.

andy

if i lived near a base where they are,it would not bother me in the slightest,as i know the guys and girls are out and about rather than sat doing nothing,it,s nice where i am in county durham as we get a few apache,s the odd merlin and globemaster coming over,and not long ago and i wish i had my phone we had an atlas 400 come over, i swear it was that low the lads repairing the roof on the houses opposite could have touched the thing,god it was loud but one hell of a site to see

Steve R

Looking at the house prices near RAF Marham I’d be happy living near it! Much cheaper than where I am (Wiltshire). I live about 30 minutes from Lyneham so we would get a fair few Hercs flying over as they approached for landing.

Nowhere near as cool as seeing F35s or Typhoons, though!

Cam

Andy when I’m Slating (roofing) down Loch Ness and the great Glen the jets fly lower than we are, almost hitting the deck, it was mainly or always tornados at that time though, sucks how I won’t see that again.

andy

i used to drive a hgv class 2 box wagon on the a66 over to cumbria once a week,and i swear the tornado pilots picked my truck for target practice,they used to come in that low the whole wagon would shudder and shake like crazy before they dropped down into the bit of a valley before bugging out to where ever they were going next,it was a nice site but a bit nerve racking when they seeked upon you with them engines bellowing at you..

Johnny

Used to regularly see c130’s skimming the roofs of my parents house just outside of consett and loads of jags, tornadoes and harriers bloody low when cycling over the hills when I was a kid, but cuts mean we don’t see it anymore.

ian

How about Wittering ?

Daniele Mandelli

No HAS, is now the home of the UAS and other RAF ground units.

Big station though, with a comprehensive SSA at the western end.

Paul T

As purely an overspill if needed how about RAF Honington,its pretty close to Marham plus it has HAS too,and it doesn’t seem too built up.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree.

Has not been a flying station for some time mind.

Steve R

I know it is cheaper and more efficient to house large numbers of fast jets in fewer bases, but I keep thinking of the risks involved too; were we ever to be at war with the likes of Russia they could take out or air bases with a few missile strikes. I’d at least hope that some of the former airfields were maintained enough that we could disperse our fast jet forces in times of war. It also annoys me that we will only have 4 operational F35 squadrons; speeding up the buy rate a bit could easily get us… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

“I’d at least hope that some of the former airfields were maintained enough that we could disperse our fast jet forces in times of war.” I have believed for some time that is exactly what is in mind with the stations we retain. Lyneham. Chivenor. Woodbridge. Honington. Cottesemore. Kinloss. Leuchars as just a few that come to mind. Most have been handed over to the Army, Chivenor is RM / Army, and Honington is RAF Reg. The army get a large facility, with plenty of hardstanding, hangers for storage, numerous buildings in the non ops side of the station, links… Read more »

CDH

I read a while ago that Leuchars took over the Northern QRA while Lossie’s runway was resurfaced. The article also said that the MOD maintains Leuchars and Kinloss’s runway and air facilities for emergencies.

If they have that plan for Scottish sites there must be one for England

Cam

Yeah RAF Lossiemouth’s size does make up for losing the other two bases, but it just sucks selling all our other old millitary bases and building dam houses on them! I hope we keep enough RAF bases incase we decide to build a big Air Force again.

Daniele Mandelli

I think we are Cam. That was my point.

Paman27

How about Mildenhall – a good location for Thetford training range and a well maintained US base, probably with excellent accommadation requiring little investment.

Could use this as part of a Thetford Super base and have chinooks based here as well, close to the Training area.

Cam

Shame, considering we are buying almost as many as typhoons well near enough, would be good to have a couple bases with F35s, even if just for strategic reasons.

Bill

RAF Coningsby is a QRA station with 2 typhoon sqds. You dont need more bases than squadrons and Scotland certainly doesnt need anymore bearing in mind Mrs Krankie wants out of the firm but taking as many assets that we will allow her to get away with. So Norway has 22 F35’s to our 17. Why l am not surprised? We only put in £2bn+ invested. Italy gets to make them for goodness sake. We have two AC’s to fill up and 3 frontline RAF sqds are just a pipedream. We are already bigging up Tempest and our multi-billion aircraft… Read more »

Paul T

Bill – for a bit of balance how many F35’s are going to be produced in Italy ? The UK Aerospace Industry has a 15% stake in every (yes every) F35 A/B/C and maybe in time a D that will be manufactured over the course of the programme.Yes the buy rate is slow for reasons that have been covered many times on this site.Tempest while an exiting prospect is a long way away – at the moment its still at the conceptual stage,in time we will see what the end product is if our politicians ever let it get to… Read more »

whlgrubber

agree. yeovilton is the obvious base. 72 35Cs to FAA and 64 F35As to RAF.

whlgrubber

MISTAKE F35 Bs !!!

Bill

Paul, Italy will assemble their own order of 90 aircraft plus 29 for the Dutch Air Force. They will also produce hundreds of wings for the life of the program estimated at nearly 20 years. It represents a huge sustained multi-billion dollar boost to the Italian economy.

Dag Sturla Blomli

Soldier on the left. Shield maiden