Norway suffers lack of technicians in defense air force, US to help
In light of the circumstances, Norway is forced to receive technicians for their prized fleet of F-35s abroad, and the staff will be from US-based arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
Norway's Defense Commission has confirmed a mass shortage of mechanics and technicians in the country's air force, which according to its recent report, has accelerated the shutdown of the air base at Bodo and the entire F-35 fleet to be distributed between air stations, Orland and Evenes.
"The air force has challenges in recruiting and retaining enough technical personnel for the combat aircraft," Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram confessed to local media. "We cannot put ourselves in a situation where the planes are left on the ground due to a lack of technical personnel. It is necessary to implement measures in both the short and long term."
In light of the circumstances, the Scandinavian nation is forced to receive technicians for their prized fleet of F-35s abroad, and the staff will be from US-based arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
According to Gram, this will be valid until the end of 2023 and is only a temporary fix, as a proposal by the government to set aside nearly NOK 60 million ($5.6 million) is out to bring enough technicians for the F-35s from the country's four aviation schools, including the new Fosen school.
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The proposal, however, still does not prove sufficient since "an aviation specialist or technician trained takes time. It takes up to five years before a technician is put into production. Then it takes even more time before you get the hands-on know-how with F-35s," according to union representative Sigurd Myrvoll.
Myrvoll, skilled with 30 years of experience at Bodo Air Base, clarified to local media that the lack of technicians despite having the highest-quality gear makes Norway weak.
"This is a declaration of bankruptcy that we have to hire personnel from Lockheed Martin to keep the F-35 in the air. We buy combat aircraft for NOK 100 billion [$9.3 billion], but we don't have the personnel to operate them ourselves. It costs enormous sums to hire personnel," he stressed.
There are too few employees per plane, according to Myrvoll, in Norway as opposed to other European nations, which was further exacerbated by the shut down of Bodo Air Base, which originally housed 110 aviation workers and flight technicians.
So far, 52 F-35 jets have been ordered by Norway - making it the largest military purchase in the history of the country and Oslo is also due to receive six new F-35s annually from Lockheed Martin.
This comes after Lockheed Martin was awarded last month by the US Department of Defense a $7.8 billion contract modification for 126 F-35 multi-role aircraft.
Just in the third quarter of last year, the manufacturer reported net sales of $16.6 billion, making for a year-on-year increase of more than $600 million. Meanwhile, "Net earnings in the third quarter of 2022 were $1.8 billion, or $6.71 per share, compared to $614 million, or $2.21 per share, in the third quarter of 2021," the company added.
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