Norway declares IOC for F-35A
The Royal Norwegian Air Force’s fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35As has achieved initial operational capability (IOC), becoming the third European country to declare the milestone after Italy and the UK.
‘I would like to congratulate the Norwegian armed forces on declaring IOC with the F-35,’ Frank Bakke-Jensen, Norway’s defence minister, said.
‘This is a big day for the entire armed forces.’
Norway’s ministry of defence announced the milestone on 6 November following two years of intensive operational testing and evaluation (OT&E).
This two-year period saw the F-35A trialled in ‘special Norwegian conditions’, including winter operations, operations in the northern areas of the country, and joint operations with the Norwegian army, navy and special forces.
The OT&E period was concluded with the Norwegian armed forces transferring aircraft and equipment from its home base at Ørland Air Station to Rygge Air Station, which validated that the fifth-generation aircraft could be operated away from its main base.
Norway’s F35As will deploy to Iceland next year to conduct air policing efforts on behalf of NATO, and in 2022 the air force will have enough F-35s, pilots and maintainers to allow the aircraft to take over the ‘quick reaction alert’ mission, which is a 24/7 alert and scramble capability based at Evenes Air Station.
Norway plans to buy a total of 52 F-35As, according to the MoD.
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