Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg on the arrival ceremony of the first F-35 Lightning II jets, Ørlandet 10 November 2017.
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Your Majesty, Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen,
And to our international guests, welcome to Ørland Air Force Station.
I am so glad that you have been able to join us here today. I am now going to continue in Norwegian, but I have been assured that an English translation is available.
Today, we are marking an important milestone in the development of Norway’s defence capabilities: the arrival in Norway of the first F-35 Lightning II jets.
The primary task of the Norwegian Armed Forces is to safeguard Norway’s sovereignty.
The price of threatening our sovereignty must be so high that no one is willing to pay it.
A strong and credible defence is therefore essential.
Our acquisition of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters is the biggest single investment ever made in mainland Norway. We are making this investment because the F-35s will give our Armed Forces capabilities that we have never had before.
The new F-35 jets will strengthen our military power and therefore also our defence capability.
Before the Norwegian Armed Forces can make full use of and see the full benefits of the F-35s, investments are needed throughout the defence structure.
This Government has already strengthened the Armed Forces considerably. The defence budgets have been increased and the new Long-term Defence Plan includes a commitment to further budget increases in the years ahead.
We will acquire new submarines and Coast Guard vessels for the Navy, new tanks, artillery and long-range precision missiles for the Army, and new maritime surveillance aircraft for the Air Force.
Norway is NATO in the north.
Norway’s security is based on our membership of NATO. The F-35 programme is a joint effort.
Norway’s participation in this programme enhances our ability to cooperate with other NATO countries, and at the same time gives us additional capabilities that we could never have acquired on our own. This illustrates the value of the Alliance we are a part of. It also shows that we are shouldering our share of the responsibility for ensuring that NATO has modern and effective capabilities.
In addition, the joint F-35 programme creates significant opportunities for Norwegian industry. So far, 8 % of the planned 3 200 jets have been produced, and Norwegian companies have already secured contracts worth several billion kroner.
This shows that Norwegian industry can compete with world-leading companies when it comes to technology and expertise.
The F-35 programme is a key focus area for the Government. Norwegian companies will continue to compete for contracts under the programme.
In many ways, the Norwegian Armed Forces can be seen as an insurance policy – one we hope we will never have to use.
Credible deterrence, based on a credible and capable defence and strong alliances, is vital for our security.
The decision to purchase the new F-35 jets was adopted unanimously by the Storting (Norwegian parliament). This says something about the importance of this investment, and about the broad support for the Armed Forces among the population. It is this that provides the basis for the Government’s work to further strengthen the Armed Forces.
The purpose of the F-35s and our Armed Forces is to protect our fundamental values and our democracy. At the end of the day, this is about safeguarding our society and our sovereignty. We should never forget this.
I would therefore like to thank everyone who has played a part in securing the delivery of the first of our new fighter jets.
All those who have worked tirelessly in Norway, the US and in other partner countries. But most of all I would like to thank all of you who serve in the Armed Forces, who work hard every day to safeguard our freedom and independence.
Thank you, and congratulations on this important day!