Norway orders F-35 fighter jets built in Fort Worth

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by MARCUS MOORE

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WFAA

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 10:18 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 3 at 10:29 PM

FORT WORTH — Norway has placed orders on its first two F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets. In all, the country plans to buy 52 warplanes.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project employs more than 6,000 people in Fort Worth. Right now, more than 85 aircraft are being built at the company’s facility.

"Today, we are living in deep peace in Norway, but no one can say exactly what’s going to happen in the next 10-20 years,” said Norway's State Secretary Roger Ingebrigtsen during a recent visit to Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth assembly plant.

At a cost of roughly $11 billion, the procurement will be the country’s biggest investment in its history. They’re working to replace the country’s current fleet of F-16s.

“And we wouldn’t do that if we didn’t feel the necessary comfort,” Ingebrigsten said during his visit.

It is comfort seemingly not shared by all; even here in the U.S., there have been calls to scrap the F-35 project because of skyrocketing costs.

The latest numbers released by Lockheed show the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Australia all plan to buy 100 jets or more.

But the U.S., Japan, and the Netherlands have either delayed orders or reduced the number they plan to buy.

Ingrebrigtsen, however, downplays any concerns. "If you don’t want any problems, you should never buy an air fighter," he said, adding that this is a new project that is breaking barriers — and with that comes a critical eye among skeptics.

However, the Norwegian minister says that moving forward, U.S. involvement is paramount.

"The big piece here is the United States; it’s two-thirds of the whole program," Ingrebrigtsen said. "If the United States is backing out — leaving the program — there will be no program."

E-mail mmoore@wfaa.com

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