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Norwegian F-35 flies for first time under Norwegian command

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, makes a historic takeoff Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. This was the first time a Norwegian jet was launched under the helm of a Norwegian pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, makes a historic takeoff Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. This was the first time a Norwegian F-35 was launched under the helm of a Norwegian pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, suits up for his historic flight of one of two Norwegian F-35s, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Maj. Hanche is the first Norwegian to ever pilot an F-35. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, suits up for his historic flight of one of two Norwegian F-35s, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Maj. Hanche is the first Norwegian to ever pilot an F-35. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Maj. Gen. Per-Egil Rygg, Royal Norwegian air force chief of staff, poses in front of a Norwegian F-35 before it is flown by Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. This marked the first time a Norwegian F-35 was flown by a Norwegian pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Maj. Gen. Per-Egil Rygg, Royal Norwegian air force chief of staff, poses in front of a Norwegian F-35 before it is flown by Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. This marked the first time a Norwegian F-35 was flown by a Norwegian pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, listens to his pre-flight brief alongside his sortie wingman and guide, Lt. Col. Gregory Frana, 62nd FS commander, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche has been training with the American pilots of the 62nd FS for the past few months to fly the F-35. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, listens to his pre-flight brief alongside his sortie wingman and guide, Lt. Col. Gregory Frana, 62nd FS commander, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche has been training with the American pilots of the 62nd FS for the past few months to fly the F-35. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, inspects the exterior of his aircraft before boarding it, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche reported that the flight went smoothly and without error. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, inspects the exterior of his aircraft before boarding it, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche reported that the flight went smoothly and without error. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, smiles as he enters the cockpit of a Norwegian F-35 for the first time, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche made history as the first Norwegian to ever pilot an F-35. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, smiles as he enters the cockpit of a Norwegian F-35 for the first time, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche made history as the first Norwegian to ever pilot an F-35. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, prepares to taxi his Norwegian F-35 out onto the runway for takeoff, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. This F-35 is one of the first two F-35s that have been produced specifically to meet the needs of the Norwegian Royal Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, prepares to taxi his Norwegian F-35 out onto the runway for takeoff, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. This F-35 is one of the first two F-35s that have been produced specifically to meet the needs of the Norwegian Royal Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

One of the first two Norwegian F-35s soars through the air under the control of Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche engaged in simulated close air support in coordination with ground forces as an exercise during the sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

One of the first two Norwegian F-35s soars through the air under the control of Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche engaged in simulated close air support in coordination with ground forces as an exercise during the sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Maj. Gen. Per-Egil Rygg, Chief of Staff of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, conducts an interview for members of the press, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Rygg discussed the significance of the first flight of a Norwegian F-35 by a Norwegian pilot, Maj. Morten Hanche. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Maj. Gen. Per-Egil Rygg, Chief of Staff of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, conducts an interview for members of the press, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Rygg discussed the significance of the first flight of a Norwegian F-35 by a Norwegian pilot, Maj. Morten Hanche. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

An F-35 taxis from the runway onto the flightline after successfully completing a sortie, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. The F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced fighter aircraft ever fielded, and is being adopted internationally by the United States and eight partner nations including Norway, Italy, and Australia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)
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An F-35 taxis from the runway onto the flightline after successfully completing a sortie, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. The F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced fighter aircraft ever fielded, and is being adopted internationally by the United States and eight partner nations including Norway, Italy, and Australia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

The Norwegian F-35 piloted by Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, taxis to rest on the flightline after a successful sortie, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche is the first Norwegian to ever fly an F-35, and is now the first Norwegian to have piloted a Norwegian-specific F-35. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)
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The Norwegian F-35 piloted by Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 student pilot, taxis to rest on the flightline after a successful sortie, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. Hanche is the first Norwegian to ever fly an F-35, and is now the first Norwegian to have piloted a Norwegian-specific F-35. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron student pilot, is congratulated by Maj. Gen. Per-Egil Rygg, Royal Norwegian air force chief of staff, after successfully completing a sortie in a Norwegian F-35, the first ever by a Norwegian pilot, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)
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Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron student pilot, is congratulated by Maj. Gen. Per-Egil Rygg, Royal Norwegian air force chief of staff, after successfully completing a sortie in a Norwegian F-35, the first ever by a Norwegian pilot, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron student pilot, shakes the hand of Col. David Shoemaker, 56th Fighter Wing vice commander, in front of Maj. Gen. Per-Egil Rygg, Royal Norwegian air force chief of staff, after successfully completing a sortie in a Norwegian F-35, the first ever by a Norwegian pilot, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)
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Norwegian Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd Fighter Squadron student pilot, shakes the hand of Col. David Shoemaker, 56th Fighter Wing vice commander, in front of Maj. Gen. Per-Egil Rygg, Royal Norwegian air force chief of staff, after successfully completing a sortie in a Norwegian F-35, the first ever by a Norwegian pilot, Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

LUKLE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona -- Maj. Morten Hanche, a Norwegian F-35 Lightning II student pilot training with the 62nd Fighter Squadron, flew the first Norwegian F-35 sortie Dec. 14, 2015 at Luke Air Force Base.

Hanche has been training at Luke under the instruction of American pilots for the past several months in order to become Norway's first F-35 pilot and instructor, part of a wider effort to foster international cooperation of global F-35 fleet development, which include the air forces of partner nations Australia and Italy.

"The flight was smooth and it was a good sortie," Hanche said. "We worked a close air support scenario with ground controllers and practiced integration with ground forces. The aircraft was very well-behaved."

This event, which marked the first flight of a Norwegian-bound F-35 at the hands of a Norwegian pilot, was attended and observed by Maj. Gen. Per-Egil Rygg, Royal Norwegian air force chief of staff.

"The way Luke Air Force Base and the 56th Fighter Wing have handled this flight and the overall training of our pilots is extraordinary," Rygg said. "This partnership is very important to Norway, and I'm very proud today to have seen the first time a Norwegian F-35 has been flown by a Norwegian pilot."

The F-35, which was produced at the Lockheed Martin facility in Texas, is one of the first two Norwegian F-35s produced, both of which are currently stationed at Luke for development and training.

Lt. Col. Gregory Frana, 62nd FS commander, flew alongside Hanche and guided him through the sortie. Frana commands the training efforts of the international pilots assigned to the 62nd FS.

"This was a momentous occasion for Norway, for Luke, and for the United States Air Force," Frana said. "We've been standing up all of our operations here with our international partnerships in mind, and these relationships will continue to develop as we receive more F-35s from all of our eight partner nations."

Two other Norwegian pilots are now undergoing the initial academic phase of their training here, with more slated to arrive in March. These pilots will eventually join Hanche in flying the F-35. Norwegian maintainers are also present at Luke, learning to repair and maintain the F-35s that will one day be on their home flightlines in Norway. Eventually, all of these Airmen will return home to help develop the training program of their own air force.