In connection with the acquisition of Norway's future fighter aircraft, F-35, Norwegian industry has already received contracts worth 350 million USD. Overall, industry has a good chance to obtain contracts for over US$ 5 billion as a result of our acquisition of new combat aircraft.
Combat aircraft are a key capability of the Armed Forces. An effective combat aircraft is essential for the military to perform its tasks both at home and abroad. The new F-35 aircraft will be a cornerstone of our future defense. The choice of base for the new aircraft is also very important. The choice of aircraft and bases will be of great consequence to our defence for the foreseeable future. Therefore, we are concerned that the decision must be good both for us and for future generations.
The US-led development program for the F-35 will be restructured and extended. Ministry of Defence has considered the consequences of this for the Norwegian project, with regard to costs, delivery times and further decision-making process.
The conclusion is that it is in Norway's interests to allow the extension of development on the American side by postponing our decision-making process for both the purchase of combat aircraft and the choice of base.
We will therefore adjust the pace of our decisions to ensure operational maturity and optimum cost of production of the Norwegian aircraft. The reorganization of the F-35 program includes allowing more time for development to put the program on a solid, realistic foundation for the development, production and future sustainment.
There should be more emphasis on risk management, cost control, staffing of critical positions, test plans and monitoring by the vendor. The U.S. is covering all costs related to the extension of the development phase.
We will push back the start of the main delivery of aircraft to 2018. By acquiring up to four training aircraft in 2016, we will still allow initiation of the necessary education and training of technical and operational personnel.
Notwithstanding this postponement, we confirm at the same time Norway's role as a serious and credible partner in the F-35 program. The Government wants to contribute to maintaining momentum in the industrial cooperation, and we have so far ensured industry obtained more orders than Norway so far has paid into the F-35 program.
There remains considerable uncertainty about the noise, noise impact, and costs associated with the choice of base. Therefore, we will use 2011 to finalize the assessment work and ensure good quality of the evaluation process.
The so-called localization study tells us that we have very good candidates. The Ministry of Defence conducted a hearing on our case. The consultation process has provided many good suggestions, and helped to elucidate the matter further.
The adjustments we make thus maintain the changes implemented in the United States. And, most important of all, we still achieve a full operational capability with modernized F-16 combat aircraft before ending their operational life.