Lockheed F-35A Fighter Jets Land on Highway in ‘World First’

Two Lockheed Martin F-35A multi-role fighter jets have successfully landed on a highway in a historic first.

Piloted by Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) personnel, the two planes touched down on a motorway in central Finland as part of a military exercise.

The aircraft immediately underwent “hotpit refueling” after landing, receiving the right amount of fuel while the engines were still running.

According to RNoAF chief Major General Rolf Folland, the milestone was an important step in increasing the F-35A’s survivability during conflicts.

He explained that fighter jets are vulnerable when on the ground, so being able to use highways leaves them less exposed to airfield attacks.

“This is a milestone. Not only for the Norwegian Air Force, but also for the Nordic countries and for NATO,” he stressed. “This demonstrates our ability to execute a concept of dispersal.”

About the F-35A

Lockheed’s F-35A is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft produced to replace the US Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16s and A-10 Thunderbolts.

It is a versatile, high-performance multi-role jet that combines stealth, sensor fusion, and unprecedented situational awareness.

The aircraft can also reach Mach 1.6 (1,975 kilometers/1,227 miles per hour) and has an operational range of 1,200 nautical miles (2,222 kilometers).

By mid-2023, the F-35 had accumulated a total of 650,000 flight hours.

First for Aircraft Type

The US has previously conducted highway landings using other variants of the F-35.

Earlier this year, the US Marine Corps landed an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter on a 50-foot-wide highway in Southern California.

The F-35B features short takeoff and vertical landing capability, allowing it to land on aircraft carriers and roads. In contrast, the F-35As used by the Royal Norwegian Air Force only possess conventional takeoff and landing capability, similar to most passenger aircraft.

F-35A jets
The two F-35A jets that landed on a Finnish highway. Photo: Eivind Byre/Norwegian Armed Forces

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