Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters will fly their last mission out of Bodø Air Base on Jan. 6, 2022 and the base will end all fighter operations after that, Alert 5 reported.
Bodø was Norway’s most important air base throughout the Cold War until today and jet fighters have been stationed at Bodø since 1955.
According to the Barents Observer, being located some 80 km inside the Arctic Circle, Bodø is strategically placed on the coast to the Norwegian Sea and in short flying distance to guard the northern air space against Russian military aviation flying out from the Kola Peninsula.
The closure of Bodø, not only marks the end of a historic chapter in NATO’s Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) but also the end of 40 years of F-16 as RNoAF’s main fighter aircraft.
Currently 24 of the 52 new F-35 Lightning II strike fighters have been delivered to the RNoAF and by 2025 all of them will be in service. The F-35s are based at Ørland Air Base in southern Norway, but a few will also serve as NATO’s new QRA at Evenes Air Station near Harstad in the north.
On Jan. 6, the F-35 fighter jets will launch an active QRA for NATO from Evenes and the last two F-16 from Bodø will fly their last mission. One of the two F-16s will return to Bodø where it will be retired as an exhibit in the town’s Aviation Museum.
As we have previously reported, a considerable percentage of the entire RNoAF F-16 fleet may potentially be relevant for repair and making ready for sale.
In March 2021 Kongsberg Aviation Maintenance Services (KAMS) has contracted with the Norwegian Defence Material Agency (NDMA) to maintain and make ready for sale F-16 aircraft that have been taken out of service in the Norwegian Armed Forces.
On Dec. 3 in fact the NDMA has reached an agreement with US adversary air services provider Draken International for the sale of up to 12 RNoAF F-16 fighters to the company. The F-16s will be used as part of Draken’s training services in the US, Debrief.com reports.
“The F-16 has served the Norwegian armed forces and the nation very well for over 40 years until their replacement by the F-35. The defense ministry has been clear on their wish that Norwegian F-16s should see continued use by others within the NATO alliance. We are therefore pleased that the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency has agreed to sell up to 12 aircraft to Draken International, a company offering services to the US military,” Norwegian defense minister Odd-Roger Enoksen said.
“We also continue our discussions with NATO allies about the sale of several Norwegian F-16s. I therefore look forward to seeing our aircraft remaining in active service for some time,” he added.
As reported by Janes in fact on Dec. 10, Romanian Defence Minister Vasile Dîncu said that Bucharest is looking to acquire 32 RNoAF’s F-16s to add to the former Portuguese aircraft that the Romanian Air Force (RoAF) currently fields.
Norway, along with Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands, was one of the four initial European countries participating in the Multi National Fighter Program (MNFP) and ordered a total of 74 F-16A/B aircraft. According to F-16.net, of these, 56 were updated under the MLU program.
Photo credit: Ssgt. Rodney K. Prouty / U.S. Air Force
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