A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II arrived at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, last week to demonstrate two key cold-weather capabilities over the next few months.

The conventional-takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) fighter jet, which is already certified to land on wet runways, will be tested in October and November to help ensure it can land on icy runways, the Air Force and prime contractor Lockheed Martin [LMT] said after the F-35A landed at Eielson Oct. 12. F-35As are expected to operate in harsh winter environments, including Eielson, which is scheduled to receive two squadrons in 2020.

An F-35A lands at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska for cold-weather testing. (Air Force photo)
An F-35A lands at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska for cold-weather testing. (Air Force photo)

The test jet will also be tried out with a new drag chute that Lockheed Martin developed to help the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s F-35As stop on short, icy runways. A pod containing the chute will be installed on the rear, upper surface of the aircraft.

The chute, which will be tested in icy conditions in the first quarter of 2018, has already undergone wet and dry runway testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, Lockheed Martin spokesman Michael Friedman said.

Norway plans to buy 52 F-35As to replace its F-16s. Its first F-35A is scheduled to arrive at Ørland Main Air Station in central Norway late this year. Norwegian pilots began training on F-35s at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona in 2015.

The Norwegian government announced Oct. 12 that it plans to increase defense spending by NOK 3 billion (U.S. $379 million) in 2018, partly to ensure “a smooth transition from F-16 to F-35 combat aircraft.” Some of the funding will pay to continue F-35-related construction at Ørland and to prepare northern Norway’s Evenes air station, which will be an F-35 “forward operation base” as well as a home for new Boeing [BA]-built P-8 maritime patrol aircraft