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Norway may rethink its F-35 plans

December 22, 2004 (by Anonymous) - The 57 F-16 jets that are in service with the Norwegian Air Force are old, but they have been upgraded to such an extent that the planes are still among the world's most modern jet fighter fleet.
Due to this continuous upgrading, the planes will most likely be in operation longer than the National parliament first predicted.

According to Jan Bratland, head of the military's main workshop for F-16s located at Kjeller, the F-16 fleet may be operative as long as 2020, perhaps even longer.

This report was welcomed by the leader of Stortinget's defense committee, Labor politician Marit Nybakk, but she said that Norway probably has to rethink its air defense when the time comes to decommission the old F-16s.

"I do not think it's realistic that Norway at one point or another will spend NOK 40 billion (USD 6.57 billion) on new fighter planes,"

Until now, the debate has been regarding what kind of planes Norway was going to select. The estimated costs were NOK 40 billion for 40 planes.

Nybakk said she envisioned an aviation collaboration between smaller NATO countries, similar to that of "Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan, as more realistic. Nybakk said a Nordic collaboration is an option as well.

"It is most likely that we share with other countries, in other words, we buy a couple of planes, but it may be that Norway doesn't need fighter planes," Nybakk stated. "It may be other countries that buy fighter planes while we provide other types, like transportation and surveillance planes."

It is most likely that this issue will be a controversial one because the Norwegian Air Force wants new planes and the defense industry is hoping for new contracts.