The Norwegian Ministry of Defence has announced a successful verification of the drag chute system for the F-35A Lightning II. The test took place at Ørland air base in Norway on February 16.
The Norwegian test comes while the US Air Force completes another round of cold-weather testing of the F-35A at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.
Major General Morten Klever, director of the F-35 program in Norway’s Ministry of Defence, said: “The programme delivers on all key criteria: time, cost and performance. Through the verification of the production version of the drag chute on our production model of the F-35, the weapons system is expected to fully qualify for Arctic conditions this spring.”
The F-35A drag chute is housed under a small fairing on the upper rear fuselage between the vertical tails. It is being added in order to rapidly decelerate Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-35s after landing on the country’s icy runways when there are challenging wind conditions. Other countries may adopt the system.
The US Air Force deployed six F-35s to Eielson AFB, Alaska, on January 18 to conduct cold-weather testing in temperatures averaging -30.5°C (-23°F). The Lightning IIs comprised two each of the F-35A, B and C variants. The aim was to accelerate initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) for the aircraft.
Norwegian Lightning programe
The first three F-35As for the RNoAF touched down at Ørland on November 3 last year. The Lightning IIs had departed Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas facility at 0635hrs Norwegian time the same day. The first jet, escorted by two RNoAF F-16s, touched down in Norway at 1557hrs.
An official ceremony celebrating the arrival of the fighters – serials 5148 (AM-08, 15-5148), 5149 (AM-09, 15-5149) and 5150 (AM-10, 15-5150) – took place on November 10.
“We mark the start of a new era for the Norwegian Armed Forces,” said Norway’s Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen at the time. “The new combat aircraft will be a key factor in deterring any attack on Norway, as well as ensuring that we meet our obligations to the NATO alliance.”
By the end of last year Norway had taken delivery of ten F-35s, three of which were at Ørland and seven stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where Norwegian pilots are conducting training. Norway plans to purchase up to 52 F-35 aircraft of which four will be permanently based at Luke. From this year, Norway will receive six aircraft annually up until, and including, 2024.