Government may trim F35 order

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Norwegian government officials are now admitting that the huge costs of replacing the country’s current fleet of F16 fighter jets will likely cut into state funding for schools, health care and transport programs. The government may decide to trim its order, from 52 of the new F35 jets to 46.

“When we need to allocate NOK 4 billion a year in addition to the defense budget, which already is the biggest per capita in Europe, there have to be consequences somewhere,” Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide told newspaper Bergens Tidende over the weekend.

Eide said that’s why his ministry is expanding the acquisition period, to spread the costs over more years.

He said planned flying time for the jets may also be reduced, to save money. Last spring, planned flying time was set at 12,640 hours a year. That’s been cut to 9,100 hours in the military’s new long-term plan.

Eide said pilots can train in advanced simulators, saving around NOK 120 million a year in fuel costs alone.

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