Norway receives first F-35 fighter jet

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway on Friday received the first three of the 40 F-35 fighter jets it ordered from Lockheed-Martin as part of efforts to beef up its air force.

Norway is the fourth country after the United States, Israel and Italy to receive the planes.

“These warplanes will improve the entire Norwegian defense,” General Major Tonje Skinnarland, head of the Norwegian airforce, told broadcaster TV2.

Their main task was to secure air control, to allow other parts of Norwegian defense to operate safely, she said.

From next year, the Norwegian airforce will take delivery of six aircraft a year.

In total, Oslo has committed to order 40 F-35 planes, with another 12 on the books - planes for which Norway has expressed an interest but not placed a firm order.

The estimated cost of acquiring 52 new combat aircraft would be NOK 67.9 billion ($8.36 billion) in 2015 values, including support equipment, simulators, weapons and training, according to the Norwegian Ministry of Defence.

Reporting by Henrik Stolen and Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Janet Lawrence