In a groundbreaking display of military prowess, a pair of Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jets executed a daring landing on a motorway, marking a significant milestone in modern military strategy. This event, captured by the Norwegian military, showcased the agility and adaptability of these cutting-edge aircraft, emphasizing their ability to minimize vulnerability during wartime.
The dramatic landing took place in Tervo, central Finland, as part of a meticulously planned military exercise. These Royal Norwegian Air Force aircraft touched down on the motorway, setting a precedent for future operations. What made this event even more remarkable was the “hotpit refuelling” immediately after landing, a seamless process conducted with the engines still running.
Major General Rolf Folland, chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, highlighted the significance of this achievement by stating, “Fighter jets are vulnerable on the ground, so by being able to use small airfields – and now motorways – (this) increases our survivability in war.”
This strategic maneuver equips the military with the capability to operate from unconventional locations, reducing the risk of enemy attacks during crucial ground moments.
Finland’s geographical position, having recently joined NATO, further amplifies the importance of this accomplishment. With a 1,300 km (810 mile) border shared with Russia, Finland’s inclusion in this exercise underscores the collaborative efforts within the Nordic countries.
Norway, a founding member of NATO, recognizes the value of strengthening cooperation among its allies.
The Unique F-35A Version
It’s worth noting that this particular version of the F-35 jet, the F-35A, does not possess vertical landing capabilities, unlike its counterpart, the F-35B. The successful motorway landing demonstrates the versatility of the F-35A, a highly advanced fifth-generation aircraft, while also highlighting its limitations.
Addressing Fuel and Support Challenges
While celebrating this feat, Norway’s military acknowledged the F-35’s challenges, particularly its dependence on timely fuel resupply, replenishment of weapons, and essential ground support. Gen. Eirik Kristoffersen, Norway’s chief of defense, emphasized that such demonstrations are pivotal in developing a comprehensive strategy for aircraft dispersal during wartime.
Expanding the Concept
This concept of utilizing non-traditional landing strips has gained traction beyond this motorway landing. In 2021, the US Air Force successfully landed an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane on a Michigan highway, marking its debut on American soil. These endeavors are part of a broader effort by the US military and its allies to counter potential threats from adversaries like Russia and China.
Protecting Staging Bases
Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command, articulated the importance of these demonstrations as a response to evolving threats. He stated, “Our adversaries have watched the American way of war for several decades, and they are going to hold our initial staging bases and our forward operating bases at risk.” This recognition underscores the need for innovative and adaptable strategies.
In conclusion, the historic motorway landing of Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jets represents a significant advancement in military capabilities. This feat, achieved through close collaboration among NATO allies, showcases the agility and adaptability of modern aircraft while addressing critical challenges in wartime operations. As the world’s geopolitical landscape evolves, these innovative strategies become essential for maintaining military readiness and safeguarding national security.