Warplanes: May 9, 2001


Norway is facing a difficult choice in a new fighter aircraft. The new defense plan calls for reducing the active Air Force to 48 F-16s, and keeping 10 aircraft in storage for attrition. This has caused serious problems in that there are not enough aircraft to provide training, and Norway has been forced to contract with US Air National Guard units to train its new F-16 pilots. A force of 48 aircraft makes it hard for Norway to send any planes to UN or EU missions. The original plan to buy new fighters called for 80 aircraft, and the Norwegian Air Force is fighting hard to keep the number of new aircraft nearer to 60 than to 50. The top choices for new aircraft are the US Joint Strike Fighter and the Eurofighter Typhoon, both of which have offered Norway a chance to buy into the development program, which would get Norwegian companies a share of the work on new fighters. Another option is to wait until the aircraft are in production, and then simply buy them outright. This would get the French Rafale involved in the bidding and might drive down the price.--Stephen V Cole


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