Norway officials as stealthy as F-35 / News / The Foreigner

Norway officials as stealthy as F-35. Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is at the centre of a new row after Parliament was deliberately misled over true costs, reports say. The aircraft are to replace Norway’s more than 30-year-old fleet of F-16s. Over 29 planes are hangared for maintenance, modernisation, or rebuilds on a rolling basis, costing the taxpayer billions of kroner. Norway has already agreed to pay 4.8 million for four F-35 trainers, scheduled for delivery in 2016. This is despite fears of spiralling costs, Norwegian military cutbacks, and slashed US spending. The planes are also reported to be excessively noisy, and suffer from communications problems north of the Arctic Circle.

lockheedmartinf-35, norwayspendingincrease



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Norway officials as stealthy as F-35

Published on Tuesday, 13th December, 2011 at 13:06 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 14th December 2011 at 15:23.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is at the centre of a new row after Parliament was deliberately misled over true costs, reports say.

F-35A Prototype AA1 (JSF)
Norway could end up paying 'a disgraceful' amount for the F-35sF-35A Prototype AA1 (JSF)
Photo: Senior Airman Julianne Showalter/USAF


On the money?

The aircraft are to replace Norway’s more than 30-year-old fleet of F-16s. Over 29 planes are hangared for maintenance, modernisation, or rebuilds on a rolling basis, costing the taxpayer billions of kroner.

Norway has already agreed to pay 4.8 million for four F-35 trainers, scheduled for delivery in 2016. This is despite fears of spiralling costs, Norwegian military cutbacks, and slashed US spending. The planes are also reported to be excessively noisy, and suffer from communications problems north of the Arctic Circle.

In further troubles, it now seems the final bill for Norway’s some 50 planes is likely to be about 235 billion kroner (USD 40 billion), 90 billion kroner dearer over 30 years than previously thought.

Deputy Minister of Defence Roger Ingebrightsen and Rear Admiral Arne Røksund already knew about this, but did not inform the Norwegian Parliament according to Aftenposten.

Both officials had disclosed the information to Christine Moore MP, the New Democratic Party of Canada’s (NDP), House of Commons Shadow Cabinet member of the Standing Committee on National Defence (NDDN) for Military Procurement (Associate Minister of National Defence), at last month’s Hearing.

Silence and strong-arm tactics

Norwegian legislators have previously expressed concerns buying Lockheed Martin’s F-35s could contravene the international Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), as the company also produces these. Norway has signed the CCM.

WikiLeaks documents show officials assured the Americans the F-35 deal was secured despite competition from Swedish SAAB’s JAS Gripen and Eurofighter at the time. Eurofighter withdrew, and MPs allege competition in bidding for the new fighter jets was an illusion when the decision to buy American was taken.

The leaked US Oslo embassy cables demonstrate Norway’s government was also pressured into purchasing Lockheed Martin’s aircraft instead of opting for SAAB’s “after an extensive, coordinated USG effort.”

Current Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide, then Deputy Minister, admitted being positive towards the Americans, but has since asserted what was written are “subjective assessments and not my problem.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Benson K. Whitney claimed in his notes that, “in a call on November 21, Deputy Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide...praised USG efforts for being nuanced, calm, and non-controversial (although persistent) in promoting the F-35. Barth Eide said that this was key to avoiding a backlash...Commenting on the press coverage of the JSF, Barth Eide said that Aftenposten (the paper of record) had “gone off the deep end” with its open anti-JSF campaign of disinformation.”

"Looking ahead, Barth Eide said we were now on the same side and it would be very helpful if the USG were to publicly stress the strength of the F-35 and the viability of the JSF program... [and] ...confirm there was no USG political pressure to buy the plane.”

“Disgraceful”

Meanwhile, Aftenposten reports the Ministry of Defence has consistently denied allegations real outgoings have been covered up, but has now confirmed the sums discussed with the Canadians are correct.

Deputy Minister of Defence Roger Ingebrightsen tells the paper, “There are no definitive figures for the F-35’s lifetime costs at the moment. These calculations are currently being made as quickly as possible and will be presented to Parliament as soon as they are ready.

“Neither are there any indications lifetime costs will be higher than [the145 billion kroner] calculated in 2008, on the contrary,” he continues, saying the new figures are “technical adjustments” to include interim inflation, exchange rate fluctuations, and differences between current value and actual currency.

Progress’ (FrP) Arild Elllingsen MP, Christine Moore’s counterpart, finds today’s revelations about the extra costs “completely unacceptable”, however.

“What I react most to is that the government is conducting a covert military operation against Parliament by withholding information about the F-35. Unveiling a sum that is 90 billion kroner higher than Parliament is aware of contravenes the duty of disclosure,” he says.

Ine Eriksen Søreide, head of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence for the Conservative Party (H), declares, “I can’t see how technical adjustments could explain a discrepancy of this size. It seems strange these figures have not been publically disclosed if there’s nothing new about them.”




Published on Tuesday, 13th December, 2011 at 13:06 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 14th December 2011 at 15:23.

This post has the following tags: lockheedmartinf-35, norwayspendingincrease.





  
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