The Norwegian Government has started negotiations with the US for the ninth low-rate initial production (LRIP-9) lot of F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft.
To date, the country has ordered four F-35 fighters, with the last two being delivered as part of a $4.7bn LRIP-8 contract signed between the US Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin.
Norwegian Fighter Aircraft programme director major general Morten Klever said: "The LRIP 9 contract will complete the first round of the main Norwegian delivery, i.e., six aircraft to be delivered in 2017.
"It is then that the first aircraft will be coming to Norway.
"Here things are going faster, and there’s a lot of work going on here in Norway to receive these planes."
The LRIP-8 contract was awarded last week. It requires Lockheed to supply a total of 43 aircraft to both the US and allied militaries.
The production cost for the LRIP-8 airframes without engines has been reduced to $94.8m.
In addition, Lockheed will have to cover 100% of any cost overruns in the aircraft production and 50% of the cost of modifications that are found to be necessary during the test programme.
Klever said: "We are now flying under the same conditions as all the other partners, including the Americans themselves, and we can claim that the industry covers overruns.
"This reduces the risk to Norway, and makes it easier for us to plan further work."
All four Norwegian aircraft are already in production, and the first is expected to be handed over to the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RoNAF) in the second half of 2015.
The remaining three aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in 2015 and 2016.
Until further notice, all aircraft would remain in the US to train Norwegian soldiers by a joint training centre for F-35 partner nations at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Norway is set to purchase up to 52 F-35 fighters at an estimated cost of Nkr66.2bn ($9.7bn) to help ensure that its armed forces are able to efficiently fulfil their tasks in future.
Image: An artistic impression of F-35 Lightning II fighter firing a joint strike missile. Photo: courtesy of GOVERNMENT.NO.