The Norwegian government is putting out some positive words about the industrial benefits the F-35 project promises its industry. Although there is no overt link to the negative headlines surrounding the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in recent months over the pace of flight trials and cost, the timing is curious.
Norway, which has committed to buying the F-35 but still needs to finalize a deal, is seen by JSF rivals as one of the opportunities to pick off customers for the single-engine Lockheed Martin fighter, particularly in light of the unit cost growth the aircraft has experienced.
But as part of a statement the government has put out to mark the signing for four C-130Js three years ago, the government highlights industrial activities that have flowed from the deal; at the time Lockheed Martin committed to a long-term industrial partnership.
The Norwegian defense ministry notes that Kongsberg has managed to sell its Protector system to the U.S. army and that the company also now has the prospect of 10 billion Norwegian kronor in F-35 related business. What’s more, it notes that the F-35 experience is helping build vital composites expertise. And it is not just the country’s big aerospace and defense player that has benefited, but also small and medium-sized enterprises, the government asserts.
The government isn’t explicitly weighing in on the larger F-35 debate raging throughout Europe, but it does appear it is trying to build a case for its program involvement.