A recent report by the Norwegian Defence Commission revealed a severe lack of mechanics in the Scandinavian aviation force. The problem is said to have been exacerbated by the closure of the Bodo air base, with the F-35 fleet being dispersed between Orland and Evenes air stations.
Bjorn Arild Gramme, the Minister of Defence of Norway, admitted to the local media that the Norwegian Air Force is having trouble hiring and maintaining adequate technical staff for the combat aircraft. He said it is not in the country’s best interest to put itself in a position where flights must be halted owing to a lack of qualified technical people. He emphasised that adopting both short-term and long-term solutions is essential.
At the moment, Norway is obligated to hire technical experts for its F-35 fleet of F-35s from Lockheed Martin, a company based in the United States, but this scenario is temporary and will not last forever. According to Gramme, the strategy will remain in effect until the year 2023 draws to a close.
The federal government is considering a proposal to allot up to $5.6 million to recruit adequate mechanics for the F-35 fleet from the country’s four aviation schools, one of which is the recently founded one at Fosen.
However, according to authorities from the relevant branch, it would take some time before the million-dollar grants can remedy the problem.
Training a specialist or technician in aviation takes time. Up to five years are required before a technician is placed into production. Then it takes even longer to gain hands-on experience with F-35s, according to union representative Sigurd Myrvoll, who has 30 years of experience at Bodo Air Base.
Myrvoll maintained that even though Norway has access to superior technology, it remains susceptible to attack due to a lack of qualified aircraft technicians.
The country is effectively admitting defeat by stating that it depends on personnel from Lockheed Martin to keep the F-35 in the air. Although the country spends 9.3 billion dollars on military aircraft, it does not have enough trained pilots. He underlined that recruiting new employees is an expensive task to undertake.
In total, Norway has ordered 52 F-35 jets, constituting the largest military purchase in the annals of the Nordic nation. The arrangement stipulates that Oslo will receive six new F-35s annually from the American factory. It is anticipated that the remainder will be delivered in 2025.
It’s a noisy plane
In April, Norway saw the beginning of a landmark legal battle when 220 landowners filed a complaint against the state regarding the noise pollution caused by the Orland air base, where Norway’s F-35 fighter jets were going to be based.
According to the lawsuit, the level of noise pollution has increased since the Norwegian Armed Forces switched from using older and less powerful F-16s to the newer and more advanced F-35s, which are hailed as the new backbone of the force.
The landowners base their decision to take action on the fact that they are experiencing both physical discomfort and financial loss. They contended that with the introduction of the new fighter jets, their properties had been disadvantaged, and the value of their land had plummeted as a result. They do this by, among other things, invoking the Neighbourhood Act, which makes it illegal to cause an unreasonable or needless inconvenience to neighbouring properties.
An attorney named Arild Paulsen from the company Simonsen Vogt Wiig stated that the typical compensation claim is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $76,500.
The Norwegian state has categorically rejected the litigants’ claims of deterioration. The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency argues that market research indicates that the properties surrounding the base have appreciated.
Orland has been a military base since the 1950s or for the past seven decades. The Defence Estates Agency told Norwegian media that they view this as continuing their ongoing operations.
When the fighter aircraft fly overhead, the disgruntled locals have complained of various issues, ranging from “chest vibrations” to needing to “cover their ears” outdoors.
The affected landowners cited the development of Oslo’s Gardermoen airport as a precedent: in that instance, residents were offered compensation, including for noise-related inconvenience.
In addition, the plaintiffs noted that so much air force activity had never been centralised in one location. During the decades when the F-16 was the predominant fighter type, the missions were dispersed among numerous bases across the country, including Bodo in the north.