The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons are in such bad shape that Oslo is not willing to send them to war.
According to Norwegian media a request by the US government for fighter aircraft to combat ISIS in Syria will be turned down. What Norway will offer is still unknown, but it will likely not involve any aircraft.
F-16 wing cracks
Earlier this year Norwegian defence minister Ine Eriksen Søreide already gave a heads-up of the situation to quality newspaper Aftenposten. “There are problems with the F-16s. Cracks in the wings is one of them.”
According to sources within the Norwegian military there is no money to keep enough F-16s airworthy for an operation abroad. Almost all available funds go to the purchase of the new Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting II stealthy multi-role fighter.
RNoAF F-35s at Luke
The first RNoAF F-35s have arrived at Luke AFB in Arizona to start training of Norwegian pilots and ground crew. Two more aircraft will follow in 2016. Eventually seven of the 52 projected new jets will be based there. The Norwegian parliament has already cleared the purchase of 22 of them, which covers the orders until FY2019.
F-35 operating bases in Norway
In 2017 the first F-35 will arrive at main operating base Ørland in Central Norway, while Evenes Air Station in the far north will be upgraded to host a small forward operating detachment of F-35s – mainly to serve as Quick Reaction Alert for the Russian air threat with about 4 to 6 F-35s based there.
Ørland is already an F-16 base. The second, Bodø, will be decommissioned as active fighter base.
Scandinavian “no” to combat ISIS
The Norwegian “no” to fighter aircraft to combat ISIS comes after the Danes already turned down such request for their F-16s as “our pilots are not combat ready” for the task. Sweden – which was asked by France for combat air assets – is bluntly unwilling to field its SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen jets.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): In a few years these pilot views on Ørland Main Air Station will be history, when these F-16s have been replace by the new F-35A Lightning II (Image © David Vo / Luftforsvaret)