Norwegian F-35s landed on a highway in Finland
Never before has the Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jet landed on a highway. On Thursday afternoon, two Norwegian F-35As landed on a highway in Tervo, Finland.
"This is a milestone. Not only for the Norwegian Air Force, but also for the Nordic countries, and for NATO. This demonstrates our ability to execute a concept of dispersal", says Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
He says fighter jets are vulnerable when on the ground.
"So by being able to use small airfields – and now motorways – increases our survivability in war. In addition, this is also a demonstration of the exciting development we have initiated within the military-air cooperation in the Nordic region", Folland says.
Important for NATO and Norway
The F-35 combat aircraft holds unique characteristics. This makes it one of the best combat aircraft ever built. The F-35 can operate from many bases and locations, but the limitations are related to how long the aircraft can operate without resupply of weapons, fuel and technical ground support.
Finland became a NATO member earlier this year and is an important partner for the Norwegian Air Force.
"Finland has been a close partner for a long time, and now also an ally. Their straight and wide highways means that we can further develop our concept for dispersal", Folland says.
"The aim of the concept is to make it more challenging for an enemy to take out our aircraft when on ground. If such a concept is to work, we must map out all possibilities, and practice them", says Folland.
The fighter jets landed around 15:00 Central European Summer Time (16:00 local time; 13:00 Zulu Time) on Thursday 21 September. They landed on a highway in Tervo, after taking part in joint training with Finnish F-18s.
"The Air Forces in the Nordic countries have shown great initiative for increased Nordic cooperation, and have come a long way. This landing is a very good example of this, and shows that the Nordic countries soon can operate together as one coordinated force", says Norwegian Chief of Defence, General Eirik Kristoffersen.
Immediately after landing, refueling was carried out with the engines running – called "hotpit refueling". Shortly after, the F-35s took off and were ready for new missions.
"With Finland's entry into NATO and Sweden's imminent membership, the Nordic countries have a particular responsibility for developing and coordinating NATO's deterrence in the northern regions", says Norwegian Minister of Defence, Bjørn Arild Gram.
"The Nordics' future air defence will consist of more than 200 combat aircraft. It is important that we are in the process of developing a Nordic cooperation on military air operations", Gram says.
The F-35B has landed on highways before
Up until the summer of this year, the F-35 nations had accumulated a total of over 650,000 flight hours, of which over 20,000 hours were flown with Norwegian aircraft.
F-35 is produced in several variants. The Royal Norwegian Air Force’s landing on a Finnish motorway is a first-time event for this aircraft type (F-35A).
The USA has previously conducted landings on highways with some of its F-35Bs, but this is a so-called STOVL version (short takeoff / vertical landing). This aircraft can land more or less vertically, for example on aircraft carriers and roads.
Point of contact for the press:
Major Stian Roen
Spokesperson for the Royal Norwegian Air Force
Telephone: +47 915 24 068