Norwegians all over the country got a rare glimpse of their new F35 fighter jets on Tuesday when two of them, along with 12 of Norway’s older F16s, flew in formation from north to south. It was an unusual display that had a variety of purposes, also as an annual Christmas greeting to all those below.
The fighter jets in formation as they swept over the historic Akershus Fortress in Oslo on Tuesday. PHOTO: Forsvaret/Torbjørn Kjosvold
It was the first time Norway’s two new F35s made a complete round trip over the country. They took off from their equally new home at the expanded Ørland Air Force Base near Trondheim and headed north, first over Norway’s Arctic areas before turning south and flying over much of Eastern and Southeastern Norway including Oslo, which was experiencing clear sunny skies.
They planned to then head west, still in formation, but were foiled by bad weather. That forced the formation of the 15 fighter jets to break up on their way back to Ørland.
The formation flight was seasonally appropriate since it’s traditionally called Julestjerna, or “The Christmas Star.” Defense officials claimed it’a also an important training exercise, though: Lt Col Ivar Magne Stene, chief of the 338th Squadron at the Ørland air station, called it “extremely complex training” from its planning stages to the challenges faced by pilots in the air.
It was initially carried out as Christmas greeting, but now the training purposes are viewed as more important for the pilots and ground crews involved.