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Norwegian F-35s take over scramble missions from F-16 predecessors

QRA F-35 at Avenes AFB in northern Norway
A Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 at Evenes air base on January 6, 2022. Photo: Norwegian defense ministry

Royal Norwegian Air Force’s new F-35s have officially taken over the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) mission, ending the F-16 fleet’s 42 year-long mission serving Norway and NATO.

The formal transfer of authority from F-16 to F-35 took place at Evenes Air Base in northern Norway on January 6, in a ceremony shortened by heavy snowfall and low visibility.

The ceremony also marked the official end of Bodø Air Base as a home to fighter aircraft, as the F-35 aircraft will be based at Ørland Air Base. A portion of the 52 F-35 jets Norway is buying from the US will be based at Evenes for the QRA mission.

Evenes will be the Norwegian Air Force’s most significant base in the north, serving as a complex base for the F-35, in addition to being the main base for the coming fleet of P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

“F-35 has now received the baton from F-16, continuing to keep a constant guard. I sense a great pride today. The introduction of the new fighter jets has been a great success, thanks to our passionate and talented personnel and partners,” says Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

Over the past decades, Norway’s fleet of F-16s carried out the QRA on behalf of NATO from Bodø Air Base in northern Norway. Now, the F-35s handle this mission from Evenes Air Base a little further north.

Evenes is currently under development and construction to house both F-35s and the coming fleet of P-8 Poseidon MPA.

Norway’s F-35s are taking over after the first Norwegian F-35 touched Norwegian ground in November 2017 at Ørland Air Base, central Norway. The F-35 organization immediately started a series of operational testing and evaluations.

The Norwegian fleet of 52 F-35s will be complete and fully operational by 2025.