Norway Sells 12 F-16s to Draken as Retirement Looms

The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (Forsvarsmateriell) announced on December 2 that it had signed a contract with Draken International for the sale of up to 12 Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-16AM/BMs. Delivery could be as early as next year, after a period of maintenance, pending the relevant U.S and Norwegian government approvals.

A Norwegian F-35A during take off from Norwegian Air Force Base Rygge, Norway. With the retirement of Norway’s F-16s imminent soon the F-35A will be the
Royal Norwegian Air Force’s only fighter. (Royal Norwegian Air Force)

The Forsvarsmateriell is leading the disposal of all 57 Norwegian F-16s, they’re currently scheduled to be withdrawn from service at the end of this month, in favour of the F-35A. As well as the sale to Draken, Norway is discussing the possible disposal of other F-16s with NATO allies, according to the Minister of Defence Odd-Roger Enoksen: 

“The Ministry has emphasized ensuring the after-use of our F-16s by allies. We view positively that Forsvarsmateriell has now entered into an agreement with the American company Draken International for the sale of up to 12 aircraft. This company provides services to the US military. At the same time, there is a dialogue with NATO allies about the sale of several Norwegian F-16s. I therefore look forward to the planes being useful for a few more years to come” 

In July this year, the Dutch government announced that it had sold 12 F-16A/Bs to Draken, with the possible sale of a further 28 floated as part of the contract. The acquisition of Norwegian F-16s by Draken increases the size of their F-16 fleet to at least 24 aircraft. 

A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon turns on the afterburners as it takes off for a training flight with the 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagles at Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands, April 3, 2015. The F-15s from the Florida and Oregon Air National Guard are deployed to Europe as the first ever ANG TSP here. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane)

Draken International currently provides a range of services to the U.S Department of Defense and international customers including adversary, gunnery and joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) training. 

A Draken International L-159E Honey Badger aircraft flies past a local Klamath County landmark, Mt. Stukel, as it undertakes the very first mission to provide “red air” during training missions for the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., June 5, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

In January this year Top Aces, a Canadian headquartered company that provides similar services to Draken, became the first non-government operator of the F-16 with the delivery of the first of 29 ex-Israeli F-16As.