Never before has the Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jet landed on a highway. On Thursday afternoon, two Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-35As landed on a highway in Tervo, Finland. The F-35 combat aircraft holds unique characteristics that make it one of the best combat aircraft ever built. The F-35 can operate from many bases and locations, but the limitations are related to how long the aircraft can operate without resupply of weapons, fuel and technical ground support. Finland became a NATO member earlier this year and is an important partner for the Norwegian Air Force. The fighter jets landed around 03:00 PM Norwegian time on a motorway in Tervo, after taking part in joint training with Finnish F-18s.Immediately after landing, refueling was carried out with the engines running – a so-called “hotpit refueling”.
“This is a milestone, not only for the Norwegian Air Force, but also for the Nordic countries and for NATO. This demonstrates our ability to execute a concept of dispersal. Fighter jets are vulnerable on the ground, so by being able to use small airfields – and now motorways – increase our survivability in war. In addition, this is also a demonstration of the exciting development we have initiated within the military-air cooperation in the Nordic region. Finland has been a close partner for a long time, and now also an ally,” Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force says.
“The Air Forces in the Nordic countries have shown great initiative for increased Nordic cooperation, and have come a long way. This landing is a very good example of this, and shows that the Nordic countries soon can operate together as one coordinated force,” says the Norwegian Defence Chief,” general Eirik Kristoffersen.
“With Finland’s entry into NATO and Sweden’s imminent membership, the Nordic countries have a particular responsibility for developing and coordinating NATO’s deterrence in the northern regions. The Nordics’ future air defense will consist of more than 200 combat aircraft, and it is very good that we are in the process of developing Nordic cooperation on military air operations,” says Norwegain Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.
Shortly after the F-35s took off and were ready for new missions. Up until the summer of this year, the F-35 nations had accumulated a total of over 650,000 flight hours, of which over 20,000 hours were flown with Norwegian aircraft. The aircraft type is delivered in several variants. The Royal Norwegia Air Forces’ landing on a Finnish motorway is a first-time event for this aircraft type. The US has previously landed on highways with some of its F-35Bs, but this is a so-called STOVL version (short takeoff / vertical landing), which can land more or less vertically, for example on aircraft carriers and roads.