The Royal Norwegian Air Force is going to be forced to limit the flight hours of its pilots, including of the jocks of the front-line combat units flying the Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon jets out of Bodø (331/332 skvadron) and Ørland (338 skvadron). Moreover, Andøya/Andenes in the far north will be closed with its fleet of Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft to be retired. Decommissioning is also awaiting the sole Electronic Warfare Unit of 717 skvadron flying two Dassault DA-20 Falcon jets – plus a third for VIP duties – out of Oslo-Gardermoen.
These are just a few points in the apparently leaked proposition by the Norwegian top generals led by admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen if NATO’s most northern country in Europe is to cope with the economic stress level set by the Norwegian government. First out with the leaked plans was Norwegian defence and security website Aldrimer.no.
To meet the economic pressure the top brass suggest to demilitarize the search and rescue assets just when Norway is about to get 16 new AgustaWestland AW101s to replace its aging Sea Kings. Withdrawing from international operations like the one in Afghanistan that do not directly serve the security interest of Norway is another thing, as well as having ships and maritime helicopters spending less time at sea.
In order to fulfill Norway’s maritime and observation duties the general staff suggests buying drones to cover the Scandinavian country’s vast maritime responsibility. Active pilots will have to do much of their daily flight training on simulators instead, including those jocks who are to man the 52 F-35 Lightning II stealthy fighters that Norway is set to buy and are causing much of the economic problems.
That the leaked plans hurts, is clear. The general staff also sums up what it really wants: increase of operational flight hours, find a manned modern replacement for the Orions, increase the airlift capacity that currently is provided by only four C-130J Hercules aircraft and equip the Royal Norwegian Air Force with its own in-flight refuelling capacity – which could be incorporated on one or two newer Hercules aircraft (KC-130J) the way neighbouring Sweden does.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): Working up to Cold Response 2014 this RNoAF F-16AM with serial 687 breaks in preparation for landing at Ørland Airbase after a counter-air training mission over the Norwegian Sea on 4 March 2014 (Image © Morten Hanche / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)