Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 Lightning II
Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 Lightning II

Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 Certified to Safeguard Skies in NATO’s High North

After bedding down the force and conducting familiarization flights in Iceland, the Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 detachment underwent a two-day certification test for NATO’s Air Policing mission in Iceland. NATO’s Combined Air Operation Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany, verified that the detachment has all the tactics, techniques and procedures in place required to provide 24/7 intercept capabilities to protect the airspace above Iceland. For the coming three weeks Norway will once more demonstrate modern aircraft integration bringing their F-35 fighters into the Alliance’s enduring collective mission safeguarding the NATO skies. It is important that Norway participates and contributes to NATO’s total defence to safeguard the sovereignty of the Alliance.

Lieutenant Colonel Tron Strand, Commander of the Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 detachment for Iceland Air Policing. (Photo by Hamza Saleh/NATO)

Together with the Icelandic Coast Guard staff in Control and Reprting Centre (CRC) Keflavik, we challenged the Norwegian detachment and reviewed their setup and processes to bring their fighters in the air within the required response time,” said Colonel Wilhelm May, German Air Force, head of the CAOC Uedem certification team. “I am very pleased to say they finished this challenge very successfully – just as they did last year with the F-35s. We ran the certification process virtually, as we did for the previous fighter detachments in Iceland mitigating for the restrictions imposed to combat the pandemic. We have resilient procedures in place that benefit from excellent communications and flawless liaison between our teams at Uedem and Keflavik,” he added.

The four Royal Norwewgian Air Force F-35 fighters during an air-to-air refuelling mission with a French Air Force KC-135 tanker. For the second time after 2020, the Norwegian F-35s are securing the skies in the High North. (Photo by French Air Force)

Norway is a key partner in the transatlantic security community and is a stronghold for NATO’s interests in the North. The nation was one of the first to sign on as a partner on the F-35 program, during the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. In 2008, the government of Norway selected the F-35 Lightning II as the replacement for their F-16 fleet. In 2012, Norway increased their program of record quantity by four aircraft and at the same time, accelerated deliveries to begin training pilots and maintainers two years earlier. The Royal Norwegian Air Force operates F-35A variant aircraft that include a drag chute to assist with landing in icy and slick conditions and to reduce landing distance on short airfields.
Norway’s program of record is for 52 F-35 aircraft.

NATO’s Combined Air Operation Centre at Uedem, Germany, verified the detachment has all the tactics, techniques and procedures in place required to provide 24/7 intercept capabilities to protect the airspace above Iceland. (Photo by Rob Kunzig/NATO).

Royal Norwegian Air Force’s F-35 fleet operates out of Ørland Air Base. In addition, a Quick Reaction Alert base is being stood up at Evenes Air Base. Evenes will be the rapid response base responsible for the airspace in the north of Norway, Nordic and allied military air exercises. Norway is an active and valued partner in the development, production and sustainment of the global F-35 fleet. Every F-35 contains components manufactured by Norwegian industry, with Norway providing key aircraft components including air-to-air pylons, rudder and vertical fin leading edges, carbon composite panels, and completed and coated horizontal and vertical tails. Since the program’s inception, 18 Norwegian companies have served as Tier 1 F-35 suppliers, with nine current and active Norwegian suppliers contributing to the program.