Royal Norwegian Air Force

Royal Norwegian Air Force
Royal Norwegian Air Force
Founded 10 November 1944
Country Norway
Part of Norwegian Armed Forces
Motto For King, People and Fatherland
Major General Finn Kristian Hannestad
(1 October 2010 - present)[1]
Ceremonial chief Harald V of Norway
Roundels Royal Norwegian Air Force Roundel.svg Royal Norwegian Air Force Roundel-LOW VISIBILITY.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon
Bomber Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon
Dassault Falcon 20
Fighter Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon
Helicopter Westland Sea King, Westland Lynx, Bell 412, NH-90
Patrol Lockheed P-3 Orion
Trainer SAAB Safari
Transport C-130 Hercules

The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) (Norwegian: Luftforsvaret) is the air force of Norway. It was established as a separate arm of the Norwegian armed forces on 10 November 1944. The RNoAF's peace force is approximately 1,430 employees (officers, enlisted staff and civilians). 600 personnel also serve their draft period in the RNoAF. After mobilization the RNoAF would consist of approximately 5,500 personnel.

The infrastructure of the RNoAF includes seven airbases (at Andøya, Bardufoss, Bodø, Gardermoen, Rygge, Sola and Ørland), two control and reporting centres (at Sørreisa and Mågerø) and three training centres (at Kjevik in Kristiansand and Persaunet in Trondheim)and at KNM HH/Madlaleiren (Stavanger).




Military flights started on 31 May 1912. The first plane, HNoMS Start, was bought with money donated by the public and piloted by Hans Dons, second in command of the submarine HNoMS Kobben (A-1).[2] Up until 1940 most of the aircraft belonging to the Navy and Army air forces were domestic designs or built under license agreements, the main bomber/scout aircraft of the Army air force being the Dutch-origined Fokker C.V.

World War II

Build-up for WWII

Before 1944 the Air Force were divided into the Norwegian Army Air Service (Hærens Flyvevaaben) and the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service (Marinens Flyvevaaben). In the late 30s, as war seemed imminent, more modern aircraft was bought from abroad, including twelve Gloster Gladiator fighters from the UK, and six Heinkel He 115s from Germany. Considerable orders for aircraft were placed with U.S. companies during the months prior to the invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940.

The most important of the US orders were two orders for comparatively modern Curtiss P-36 Hawk monoplane fighters. The first was for 24 Hawk 75A-6 (with 1200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC3-G Twin Wasp engines), 19 of which were delivered before the invasion. Of these 19, though, none were operational when the attack came. A number were still in their shipping crates in Oslo harbour, while others stood at the Kjeller aircraft factory, flight ready, but none combat ready. Some of the Kjeller aircraft had not been fitted with machine guns, and those that had been fitted still lacked gun sights.

The ship with the last five 75A-6s that were shipbound for Norway were diverted to United Kingdom, where they were taken over by Royal Air Force. All 19 Norwegian P-36s that were captured by the German invaders were later sold by the German authorities to the Finnish Air Force, which was to use them to good effect during the Continuation War.

The other order for P-36s was for 36 Hawk 75A-8 (with 1200 hp Wright R-1820-95 Cyclone 9 engines), none of which were delivered in time for the invasion, but were delivered to Little Norway. There they were used for training Norwegian pilots until the USAAF took over the aircraft and used them under the designation P36G.

Also ordered prior to the invasion were 24 Northrop N-3PB float planes built in on Norwegian specifications for a patrol bomber. The order was made on 12 March 1940 in an effort to replace the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service's obsolete MF.11 biplane patrol aircraft. None of the type were delivered by 9 April and when they became operational with the 330 (Norwegian) Squadron in May 1941 they were stationed at Reykjavík, Iceland performing anti-submarine and convoy escort duties.

1937-1940 aircraft marking

Escape and exile

The unequal situation led to the rapid defeat of the Norwegian air forces, even though seven Gladiators from Jagevingen (the fighter wing) defended Fornebu airport against the attacking German forces with some success - claiming two Me 110 heavy fighters, two He 111 bombers and one Junkers Ju 52 transport. Jagevingen lost two Gladiators to ground strafing while they were rearming on Fornebu and one in the air, shot down by Future Experte Helmut Lent, injuring the sergeant pilot. After the withdrawal of allied forces, the Norwegian Government gave up fighting in Norway and evacuated to the United Kingdom on 10 June 1940.

Only aircraft of the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service had the range to fly all the way from their last remaining bases in Northern Norway to the UK. Included amongst the Norwegian aircraft that reached the British Isles were four German-made Heinkel He 115 seaplane bombers, six of which were bought before the war and two more were captured from the Germans during the Norwegian Campaign. One He 115 also escaped to Finland before the surrender of mainland Norway, as did three M.F. 11s; landing on Lake Salmijärvi in Petsamo. A captured Arado Ar 196 originating from the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper was also flown to Britain for testing.

For the Norwegian Army Air Service aircraft the only option for escape was Finland, where the planes would be interned but at least not fall into the hands of the Germans. In all two Fokker C.V.s and one de Havilland Tiger Moth made it across the border and onto Finnish airfields just before the capitulation of mainland Norway. All navy and army aircraft that fled to Finland were pressed into service with the Finnish Air Force.[3]

The Army and Navy air services established themselves in Britain under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Norwegian air and ground crews operated as part of the British Royal Air Force, in both wholly Norwegian squadrons and also in other squadrons and units such as RAF Ferry Command and RAF Bomber Command. In particular, Norwegian personnel operated two squadrons of Supermarine Spitfires: RAF 132 (Norwegian) Wing consisted of No. 331 (Norwegian) Squadron and RAF No. 332 (Norwegian) Squadron. Both planes and running costs were financed by the exiled Norwegian government.

In the autumn of 1940, a Norwegian training center known as "Little Norway" was established next to Toronto Island Airport, Canada.

The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) was established by a royal decree on 1 November 1944, thereby merging the Army and Navy air forces. No. 331 (Norwegian) Squadron defended London from 1941 and was the highest scoring fighter squadron in South England during the war.

Up until 8 May 1945, 335 persons had lost their lives while taking part in the efforts of the RNoAF.

Post-war air force

After the war the Spitfire remained in service with the RNoAF into the fifties.

In 1947, the Surveillance and Control Division acquired its first radar system, and around the same time the RNoAF got its first jet fighters in the form of De Havilland Vampires.

In 1949 Norway co-founded NATO, and soon afterwards received American aircraft through the MAP (Military Aid Program). The expansion of the Air Force happened at a very rapid pace as the Cold War progressed. Throughout the Cold War the Norwegian Air Force was only one of two NATO air forces — Turkey being the other — with a responsibility for an area with a land border with the Soviet Union, and Norwegian fighter aircraft had on average 500-600 interceptions of Soviet aircraft each year.[4]

In 1959, the Anti-Aircraft Artillery was integrated into the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

21st century RNoAF

In October 2002, a tri-national force of 18 Norwegian, Danish, and Dutch F-16 fighter-bombers, with one Dutch Air Force KC-10A tanker, flew to the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, to support the NATO ground forces in Afghanistan as a part of the Operation Enduring Freedom.

In 2004, four F-16s participated on NATO's Baltic Air Policing operation.

Since February, 2006, eight Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s, joined by four Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s, have been supporting NATO International Security Assistance Force ground troops mostly in the southern provinces of Afghanistan. The air detachment is known as the 1st Netherlands-Norwegian European Participating Forces Expeditionary Air Wing (1 NLD/NOR EEAW).[5]

Libyan no-fly zone : – In a statement, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre condemned the violence against "peaceful protesters in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen", saying the protests "are an expression of the people’s desire for more participatory democracy. The authorities must respect fundamental human rights such as political, economic and social rights. It is now vital that all parties do their utmost to foster peaceful dialogue on reforms.".[6] On 19 March 2011 the Norwegian government authorized The Royal Norwegian Air Force to head for Libya and prepare for missions there. Norway has approved 6 General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters and necessary personnel. These fighters will head for Greece on 21 March and operate from the Souda Air Base in Souda Bay on Greece .[7] On 24 March, 2011, F-16s from the Royal Norwegian Air Force was assigned to the United States Africa Command and the Operation Odyssey Dawn. A number of Norwegian F-16s took off from their base in Greece for their first mission over Libya.[8][9] On 25 March, 2011, 3 laserguided bombs were launched from 2 F-16s of the Royal Norwegian Air Force against Libyan tanks and during the night towards 26 March an airfield was bombed. . Equipment also depolyed to Operation Unified Protector on 26 March 2011.[10][11] By July 2011 the Norwegian F-16's had dropped close to 600 bombs, some 17 % of the total bombs dropped at that time.[12][13] [14]It was Norwegian F-16s that on the night towards 26 April, bombed Gaddafis headquarter in Tripoli [13][15][16][17]

Future plans

The RNoAF will conduct several investments in the coming years. First the European helicopter NH-90 will be introduced to replace the Lynx helicopters as a ship-borne helicopter, but the Air Force also have an option of buying an additional 15 Search and rescue helicopters to replace its aging Sea King helicopters. The aging F-16AM fighter will be replaced from 2016. On 20 November 2008, after considerable behind-the-scenes lobbying by US diplomats and politicians,[18][19][20] the prime minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg announced that the F-35 was the only fighter fulfilling all the Norwegian requirements and thus the preferred choice . Stoltenberg stated that cooperation with the Nordic countries on defence and security would continue independently of the F-35 purchase.[21]


The RNoAF is organized in ten Air Wings. These are divided into a total of two Control and Reporting Centres, nine flying squadrons as well as two anti aircraft units.

Roundel first used in 1945.

Control and Reporting Centre Mågerø

Control and Reporting Centre Sørreisa

Bodø Main Air Station

Ørland Main Air Station

  • 138 Air Wing
    • 338 Squadron (F-16A MLU, NRF - NATO Reaction Force)
    • GBAD Battalion (NASAMS 2 batteries)
    • Mobile Base-set (IRF support)
  • 330 Squadron (Detachment) (Sea King, rescue)
  • NATO Airborne Early Warning Force - Forward Operating Location (E-3A Sentry)

Andøya Air Station

Bardufoss Air Station

  • 139 Air Wing
    • 334 Squadron (command) (NH-90, frigate force)
    • 337 Squadron (Lynx/NH-90, Coast Guard)
    • 339 Squadron (Bell 412 SP, transport)
    • 718 Squadron (UAV/UACV)
    • Royal Norwegian Air Force Flight Training School (Saab Safari, flight training)
General Dynamics F-16AM at RIAT 2010.

Gardermoen Air Station

  • 135 Air Wing
    • 335 Squadron (C-130J, transport)

Rygge Air Station

  • 137 Air Wing
    • 717 Squadron (DA-20, electronic warfare & VIP transport)
    • 720 Squadron (Bell 412 SP, special forces transport)
    • 330 Squadron (Detachment) (Sea King, rescue)
    • Base Defence Squadron (BOS - Bakkeoperativ Skvadron) - sequrity force and educational unit for fire- and rescue personnel and radar personnel for the NASAMS II system.[24]

Sola Air Station

Haakonsvern Naval Base

  • 139 Air Wing
    • 334 Squadron (Detachment, to be established) (NH-90, frigate force)

Norwegian Air Force Academy (Trondheim)

Aircraft inventory


See also


  1. ^ Official Norwegian Defence Force website: Generalmajor Finn Kristian Hannestad (Norwegian)
  2. ^ Official Norwegian Defence Force website: History of the Royal Norwegian Air Force (Norwegian)
  3. ^ Finnish Air Force Aircraft of WWII
  4. ^ The Norwegian Air Force chief's address to Oslo Military Society in 2004
  5. ^ Dutch MoD on the 1 NLD/NOR EEAW
  6. ^ "Norway condemns violence in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Proposed Response to Swedish Request to Release AESA RADAR for Gripen Fighter Planes". WikiLeaks. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  19. ^ "Norway Fighter Purchase: High-Level Advocacy Needed Now". WikiLeaks. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  20. ^ "WikiLeaks, Weaklings and Weasels". Aviation Week. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  21. ^ "The Joint Strike Fighter recommended to replace the F-16". Norwegian Prime Minister's Office. 20 November 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Forsvarsnett: DA-20
  26. ^ Lockheed Martin Press Release, 11 May, 2010
  27. ^ Forsvarsnett: C-130 Hercules
  28. ^ Forsvarsnett: Kritisk kapasitet snart klar
  29. ^ "New transport plane for the Norwegian Air Force". NRK (The Norway Post). 26 November 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2008. [dead link]
  30. ^ Smevik, Vidar (2009-06-29). "Idunn lettet for første gang" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Armed Forces. Retrieved 2009-06-30. [dead link]
  31. ^ Dalløkken, Per Erlien (10 June 2009). "I kveld lander Idunn — Norges nye Super Hercules kommer til Gardermoen i kveld." (in Norwegian). Teknisk Ukeblad. Retrieved 16 June 2009. 
  32. ^ "Forsvarsnett: The Royal Norwegian Air Force". Archived from the original on 2007-03-16. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  33. ^ Forsvarsnett: 333 Skvadron Forsvarsnett: The “neversleeping eye” in the north
  34. ^ Norwegian military aviation OrBat
  35. ^ Forsvarsnett: Saab Safari

External links

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