August 18, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Norwegian Government and Lockheed Martin have agreed to reduce Norway's contributions towards the development of the new Joint Strike Fighter by 50 percent over the next two years, according to a Norwegian newspaper.
This follows recent criticism of the earlier agreement.
was originally committed to pay USD 15 million a year towards the development of the JSF
, but will now have to pay only USD 7.5 million in 2005 and 2006, according to a new confidential agreement.
When Norway agreed to pay the USD 15 million a year for ten years, the parliament did so on condition that the Norwegian defence industry would be given worthwhile subcontracts. This did not happen, according to the critics.
In June, both the Socialist Left Party and the right wing Progress Party tried without success to get a majority in the parliament in favor of pulling Norway out of the JSF program.
The new agreement is kept secret because it would attract attention in other countries which are also contributing towards the development of the new jet fighter.
Norway is partner in the JSF development program together with 7-8 other nations. The Norwegian Government's aim is to exchange the old F-16 jetfighters with new planes around 2012-2015.
At present the choice stands between the US JSF and the joint European aircraft project, the Eurofighter.
Norway is scheduled to make its final decision in 2008.