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Norwegian Party Leader Grills F-35 as Nation's 'Biggest Investment Blunder'

The problem-ridden US fighter-jet, projected to become the backbone of the Norwegian defense, as well as the nation's costliest defense purchase, is being met with increasing criticism in the Nordic country, as complications keep piling up.

Reds leader Bjørnar Moxnes expressed his indignation over billions of kroner splurged on a plane, which has "a thousand errors" and cannot be used half the time.

"This could be Norway's biggest investment blunder. If the aircraft ever comes into service, its operation costs will dramatically weaken the rest of the armed forces. And if they don't, to which there is ample evidence, it will be even worse," Moxnes told the ABC Nyheter news outlet.

Moxnes referred to the recent report by Pentagon's testing office director Robert Behler, which claimed that the availability of the F-35s for missions when needed, a key metric, remained "around 50 percent," a condition that has existed with no significant improvement since October 2014, despite an increasing number of aircraft. Additionally, the aircraft, which is about to become the costliest weapon in the US history, as well as the most expensive defense procurement in Norway, was found to have about 1,000 unresolved errors.

"When it comes to the aircraft being available for operations only half of the time, this is not very reassuring. If these planes are standing on the ground half of the time, it's a solid failure," Bjørnar Moxnes argued.

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The Reds leader pointed out that the estimated lifetime costs associated with the project amounted to 270 billion ($35 billion), which amounts to a quarter of Norway's overall state expenditure for a whole year.

Moxnes also referred to retired US Air Force four-star general Michael Hostage, who argued that the F-35 was designed as an attack plane and was not intended to defend airspace, which is its chief projected mission in Norway.

"I understand that the US needs it. But the fact that Norway is to put all the eggs in one basket, and this basket is called F-35, is incomprehensible," Moxnes argued.

Moxnes concluded that the cost of the combat aircraft will leave a heavy toll on the Norwegian defense.

READ ALSO: Norway Slims Navy, Bets on Submarines, Fighter Jets

"Investments in the F-35 will be like a lead weight," Moxnes argued.

In the capacity of a standing contributor to the international Joint Strike Fighter project that ultimately resulted in the F-35, Norway decided to acquire 52 new F-35 fighter jets to the tune of NOK 81 billion (close to $10 billion). The first three F-35s arrived in November 2017 and were hailed with pomp. Later, however, it transpired that the aircraft will be stationed in plastic tents due to absence of hangars. Additionally, a dramatic lack of air defense was uncovered.

READ MORE: Oslo, We Have a Problem! Norway's Prized F-35 Aircraft Stored in Tents

​Founded in 2007, the Reds made their first ever appearance in Norwegian parliament in 2017.

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