Defence Minister defends F-35 acquisition / News / The Foreigner

Defence Minister defends F-35 acquisition. UPDATED: Opposition Parties are questioning Norway’s JSF purchase price in light of US concerns over spiralling costs, expressing dissatisfaction at Minister of Defence Grete Faremo’s explanations. Immediately following today’s open Parliamentary hearing, Ivar Kristiansen, the Conservative Party’s (H) defence policy spokesperson, tells The Foreigner “I think I speak on behalf of the entire Opposition when I express my dissatisfaction about the amount of information she conveyed.” Manufacturer Lockheed Martin is battling repeated production hold-ups and major technical problems, and a Pentagon Selected Acquisition Report from last year shows the F-35A has a reduced combat range of 584 nautical miles, 6 nautical miles shorter than required.

gretefaremo, lockheedmartin, f-35jointstrikefighter



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Defence Minister defends F-35 acquisition

Published on Monday, 6th June, 2011 at 12:46 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 6th June 2011 at 15:37.

UPDATED: Opposition Parties are questioning Norway’s JSF purchase price in light of US concerns over spiralling costs, expressing dissatisfaction at Minister of Defence Grete Faremo’s explanations.

Defence Minister Grete Faremo
Defence Minister Grete Faremo
Photo: Arbeiderpartiet/Flickr


“Inappropriate”

Immediately following today’s open Parliamentary hearing, Ivar Kristiansen, the Conservative Party’s (H) defence policy spokesperson, tells The Foreigner “I think I speak on behalf of the entire Opposition when I express my dissatisfaction about the amount of information she conveyed.”

Manufacturer Lockheed Martin is battling repeated production hold-ups and major technical problems, and a Pentagon Selected Acquisition Report from last year shows the F-35A has a reduced combat range of 584 nautical miles, 6 nautical miles shorter than required.

The Pentagon has also postponed its planned cost review until June 14, with Defense Undersecretary Ashton Carter saying at last month’s Senate hearing the estimated doubling in real price terms was “unacceptable and unaffordable," reports Reuters.

According to Labour’s (Ap) minister Faremo, the price of 56 planes is expected to be between 61 and 72 billion kroner total based on current estimates. Nevertheless, Opposition politicians are critical to the government’s decision to purchase the planes.

In an email to The Foreigner, Liberal Party (V) Political Advisor, Paal Pettersen, writes the Party “is very critical to the lack of information to Parliament concerning a number of issues related to the F-35 investment, most importantly the rising program cost estimates, project delays, etc. It is imperative that Parliament has as complete information as possible regarding all aspects of the program – especially cost estimates, delays, etc – before we progress any further with our investment.

“We therefore expect and demand that defense minister Grete Faremo gives Parliament more accurate answers in today’s hearing than we’ve had before. It is not acceptable that Parliament should make decisions of this magnitude – this is the biggest public investment in Norway ever – without being given complete and updated information,” he continues.

Moreover, a WikiLeaks-released a cable last year alleging US embassy officials in Oslo pressured the Norwegian government into deciding on the F-35s, jettisoning SAAB’s Gripen and the Eurofighter.

Deputy Minister (Statssekretær) Espen Barth Eide, attached to the Ministry of Defence at the time, admitted giving the Americans positive signals, also saying “what [the Americans] have written are subjective assessments and are not my problem.”

Kosher?

Norway’s government recently announced it intends to purchase four Lightning-IIs for training purposes costing 4.8 billion kroner. These are to bridge the gap between Norway’s over 30-year-old ageing F-16s, due to be phased out completely by 2023.

Minister of Defence Faremo states the four new F-35s will be delivered to a US-based international training base in 2016, with transfer to Norway two years later.

Christian Democratic Party (KrF) leader Dagfinn Høybråthen, says he is concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the increase in investment and operational costs.

“I wonder why the Norwegian government is so eager to buy four training aircraft at the same time the US is postponing its purchases, and was alarmed about what was said during the May 19 US Senate hearing. The minister must be prepared to answer questions today. I would be positive to postponing investing in the four fighters.”

Sharing Mr Høybråthen’s view is Morten Høglund MP, representative on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreigner Affairs and Defence for the Progress Party (FrP).

“The government has been very open regarding costs surrounding the F-35s and I feel we have been given some answers, but it might be wiser to wait until a decision has been made about purchasing all 56 planes. Whilst there is no reason to suspect anything different, as the MOD believes current figures to be plausible, one can always ask how much can be believed, of course,” he says.



Published on Monday, 6th June, 2011 at 12:46 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 6th June 2011 at 15:37.

This post has the following tags: gretefaremo, lockheedmartin, f-35jointstrikefighter.





  
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