“New cost estimates in any of the partner in the F-35 program may give the impression that there are large increases in lifetime cost around F-35. This is not correct - what happens is that other countries are beginning to work with many of the same assumptions as Norway has done from the beginning,” says Anders Melheim, director of the fighter program.
One such example of the new estimates is that Canada has commissioned an external evaluation of its cost-based consulting firm KPMG. In their report, they presented figures for the possible life-cycle costs of the F-35 which is considerably higher than previous estimates that have been presented by the Canadian government.
This is largely because KPMG believes that Canada must take into account factors that have long been included in the Norwegian estimates.
“From the beginning, we put forward the most complete and true image that conveys what it will actually cost Norwegian society to buy, own and operate a fighter capacity until around 2050. Other countries are now also starting to include as many factors, and are planning to operate the aircraft as long as we do, so it is not surprising that their estimates gradually begin to resemble ours,” says Melheim.
Parliament has decided that the military of the future will have a structure of up to 52 combat aircraft of the type F-35, and that these will be based in Orland.
Deliveries of the aircraft will begin in 2015 when the first aircraft will to be used for training Norwegian pilots stationed in the U.S., followed by the delivery of the first operational aircraft to Norway in 2017.
The Norwegian cost estimate for the procurement phase has remained stable at just over 60 billion since 2008, and is now estimated at 61.2 billion in real 2012-kroner.
“We have made good progress in the program and look forward to building the first Norwegian aircraft will soon be starting. This is a major investment in Norway's security and independence and it is our duty to undertake procurement within the framework of the program as defined by the political leadership,” says the program director.
Click here for a complete analysis of Norway’s F-35 costs (in Norwegian) on its MoD website (html format).