Royal Norwegian Air Force
Badge of the Royal Norwegian Air Force
Founded10 November 1944; 79 years ago (1944-11-10)
Country Norway
AllegianceKingdom of Norway
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
  • 3,650
  • 102 aircraft[1]
Part ofNorwegian Armed Forces
HeadquartersRygge Air Station
  • Konge, Folk og Fedreland
  • "King, People and Fatherland" Edit this at Wikidata
Commander-in-ChiefHM King Harald V
Chief of the Air ForceMajor General Rolf Folland
(11 August 2021 – present)[2]
Aircraft flown
HelicopterAW101, Sea King, Bell 412
PatrolP-8 Poseidon
TrainerSaab Safari

The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) (Norwegian: Luftforsvaret, lit.'The Air Defence') is the air force of Norway. It was established as a separate arm of the Norwegian Armed Forces on 10 November 1944. The RNoAF's peacetime establishment is approximately 2,430 employees (officers, enlisted staff and civilians). 600 personnel also serve their draft period in the RNoAF. After mobilization, the RNoAF would consist of approximately 5,500 personnel.

The infrastructure of the RNoAF includes seven airbases (at Ørland, Rygge, Andøya, Evenes, Bardufoss, Bodø and Gardermoen), one control and reporting centre (at Sørreisa) and three training centres at Værnes in Stjørdal, 32.7 km north of Trondheim, where Trondheim airport now lies, Kjevik in Kristiansand and at KNM Harald Haarfagre/Madlaleiren in Stavanger.



Military flights started on 1 June 1912. The first plane, HNoMS Start, was bought with money donated by the public and piloted by Hans Dons, second in command of Norway's first submarine HNoMS Kobben (A-1).[3] Until 1940 most of the aircraft belonging to the Navy and Army air forces were domestic designs or built under license agreements, the main bomber/scout aircraft of the Army air force being the Dutch-originated Fokker C.V.

World War II

Build-up for World War II

Gloster Gladiator 423 in 1938–1940

Before 1944, the Air Force were divided into the Norwegian Army Air Service (Hærens Flyvevaaben) and the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service (Marinens Flyvevaaben).

In the late 1930s, as war seemed imminent, more modern aircraft were bought from abroad, including twelve Gloster Gladiator fighters from the UK, and six Heinkel He 115s from Germany. Considerable orders for aircraft were placed with United States companies during the months prior to the invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940.

The most important of the US orders were two orders for comparatively modern Curtiss P-36 Hawk monoplane fighters. The first was for 24 Hawk 75A-6 (with 1200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC3-G Twin Wasp engines), 19 of which were delivered before the invasion. Of these 19, though, none were operational when the attack came. A number were still in their shipping crates in Oslo harbour, while others stood at the Kjeller aircraft factory, flight ready, but none combat ready. Some of the Kjeller aircraft had not been fitted with machine guns, and those that had been fitted still lacked gun sights.

The ship with the last five 75A-6s that were bound for Norway was diverted to the United Kingdom, where they were taken over by Royal Air Force (RAF). All 19 Norwegian P-36s that were captured by the German invaders were later sold by the German authorities to the Finnish Air Force, which was to use them to good effect during the Continuation War.

The other order for P-36s was for 36 Hawk 75A-8 (with 1200 hp Wright R-1820-95 Cyclone 9 engines), none of which were delivered in time for the invasion, but were delivered to "Little Norway" near Toronto, Ontario, Canada. There they were used for training Norwegian pilots until the USAAF took over the aircraft and used them under the designation P-36G.

Also ordered prior to the invasion were 24 Northrop N-3PB float planes built in on Norwegian specifications for a patrol bomber. The order was made on 12 March 1940 in an effort to replace the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service's obsolete MF.11 biplane patrol aircraft. None of the type were delivered by 9 April and when they became operational with the 330 (Norwegian) Squadron in May 1941 they were stationed at Reykjavík, Iceland performing anti-submarine and convoy escort duties.

1937–1940 aircraft marking

Escape and exile

The unequal situation led to the rapid defeat of the Norwegian air forces, even though seven Gladiators from the fighter wing (Jagevingen) defended Fornebu airport against the attacking German forces with some success—claiming two Bf 110 heavy fighters, two He 111 bombers and one Junkers Ju 52 transport. Jagevingen lost two Gladiators to ground strafing while they were rearming on Fornebu and one in the air, shot down by Future Experte Helmut Lent, injuring the sergeant pilot. After the withdrawal of allied forces, the Norwegian Government ceased fighting in Norway and evacuated to the United Kingdom on 10 June 1940.

DH.82A Tiger Moth in Royal Norwegian Air Force markings

Only aircraft of the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service had the range to fly all the way from their last remaining bases in Northern Norway to the UK. Included amongst the Norwegian aircraft that reached the British Isles were four German-made Heinkel He 115 seaplane bombers, six of which were bought before the war and two more were captured from the Germans during the Norwegian Campaign. One He 115 also escaped to Finland before the surrender of mainland Norway, as did three M.F. 11s; landing on Lake Salmijärvi in Petsamo. A captured Arado Ar 196 originating from the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper was also flown to Britain for testing.

For the Norwegian Army Air Service aircraft the only option for escape was Finland, where the planes would be interned but at least not fall into the hands of the Germans. In all two Fokker C.V.s and one de Havilland Tiger Moth made it across the border and onto Finnish airfields just before the capitulation of mainland Norway. All navy and army aircraft that fled to Finland were pressed into service with the Finnish Air Force,[4] while most of the aircrew eventually ended up in "Little Norway".

The Army and Navy air services established themselves in Britain under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Norwegian air and ground crews operated as part of the British Royal Air Force, in both wholly Norwegian squadrons and also in other squadrons and units such as RAF Ferry Command and RAF Bomber Command. In particular, Norwegian personnel operated two squadrons of Supermarine Spitfires: RAF 132 (Norwegian) Wing consisted of No. 331 (Norwegian) Squadron and RAF No. 332 (Norwegian) Squadron. Both planes and running costs were financed by the exiled Norwegian government.

In the autumn of 1940, a Norwegian training centre known as "Little Norway" was established next to Toronto Island Airport, Canada.

The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) was established by a royal decree on 1 November 1944, thereby merging the Army and Navy air forces. No. 331 (Norwegian) Squadron defended London from 1941 and was the highest scoring fighter squadron in South England during the war.

Up until 8 May 1945, 335 persons had lost their lives while taking part in the efforts of the RNoAF.

Post-war air force

Royal Norwegian Air Force Spitfire

After the war the Spitfire remained in service with the RNoAF into the fifties.

In 1947, the Surveillance and Control Division acquired its first radar system, and around the same time the RNoAF got its first jet fighters in the form of de Havilland Vampires.

In 1949 Norway co-founded NATO, and soon afterwards received American aircraft through the MAP (Military Aid Program). The expansion of the Air Force happened at a very rapid pace as the Cold War progressed. Throughout the Cold War the Norwegian Air Force was only one of two NATO air forces—Turkey being the other—with a responsibility for an area with a land border with the Soviet Union, and Norwegian fighter aircraft had on average 500–600 interceptions of Soviet aircraft each year.[5]

In 1959, the Anti-Aircraft Artillery was integrated into the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

In 1999, Norway participated with six[6] F-16s during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.[7]

21st century RNoAF

In October 2002, a tri-national force of 18 Norwegian, Danish, and Dutch F-16 fighter-bombers, with one Dutch Air Force KC-10A tanker, flew to the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, to support the NATO ground forces in Afghanistan as a part of the Operation Enduring Freedom. One of the missions was Operation Desert Lion.[8]

On 27–28 January, Norwegian F-16s bombed Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin Fighters in the Adi Ghar Mountains during the beginnings of Operation Mongoose.[citation needed]

In 2004, four F-16s participated on NATO's Baltic Air Policing operation.[citation needed]

Beginning from February 2006, eight Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s, joined by four Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s, supported NATO International Security Assistance Force ground troops mostly in the southern provinces of Afghanistan. The air detachment is known as the 1st Netherlands-Norwegian European Participating Forces Expeditionary Air Wing (1 NLD/NOR EEAW).[9]


In 2011, a detachment of F-16s were sent to enforce the Libyan no-fly zone. In a statement, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre condemned the violence against "peaceful protesters in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen", saying the protests "are an expression of the people's desire for more participatory democracy. The authorities must respect fundamental human rights such as political, economic and social rights. It is now vital that all parties do their utmost to foster peaceful dialogue on reforms".[10] On 19 March 2011, the Norwegian government authorized the Royal Norwegian Air Force for deployment in Libya. Norway approved six F-16 fighters and personnel. The deployment started on 21 March and operated from the Souda Air Base in Souda Bay on Crete.[11]

On 24 March 2011, F-16s from the Royal Norwegian Air Force were assigned to the United States Africa Command during Operation Odyssey Dawn.[12][13] On 25 March 2011, laser-guided bombs were launched from F-16s of the Royal Norwegian Air Force against Libyan tanks and during the night towards 26 March an airfield was bombed. Forces were also deployed to Operation Unified Protector on 26 March 2011.[14][15]

By July 2011, the Norwegian F-16's had dropped close to 600 bombs, some 17% of the total bombs dropped at that time.[16][17][18] It was Norwegian F-16s that on the night towards 26 April, bombed Gaddafi's headquarter in Tripoli.[17][19][20][21]

From September to December 2011, the Air Force contributed personnel and one P-3 Orion to Operation Ocean Shield. Operating from the Seychelles, the aircraft searched for pirates in the Somali Basin.[22][23]

In April 2016 the life of a patient, at the hospital in Bodø, was saved when necessary medical equipment was ferried halfway across Norway by an Air Force F-16 jet from Værnes Air Station, in a flight that took 25 minutes.[24]

On 29 March 2017, Norway signed a contract for five P-8As, to be delivered between 2022 and 2023.[25]

On 3 November 2017, RNoAF took delivery of the first F-35A Lightning II.[26]


In March 2021, RNoAF participated in Icelandic Air Policing with four F-35A Lightning II and 130 military personnel.[27]

On 6 January 2022, the F-35 officially took over the Quick Reaction Alert mission, ending the F-16 fleet’s 42 year-long mission.[28]

In December 2021, Romania expressed their interest to purchase 32 F-16As.[29][30] The first three aircraft were delivered in November 2023.[31]

In June 2022, Norway terminated a contract to acquire 14 NH90 helicopters, claiming that the supplier could not deliver and sustain the availability of combat capable aircraft that Norway required. All NH90 flight operations are discontinued, all acquired aircraft are planned to be returned to the manufacturer, and in due course Norway intends to acquire a new aircraft.[32]


On 14 March 2023, RNoAF announced a contract for six SH-60 Seahawk as a replacement for the NH90. The three first helicopters will be delivered in 2025.[33]


Royal Norwegian Air Force is located in Norway
Royal Norwegian Air Force locations 2024
F-35A Lightning II Boeing P-8A Poseidon Helicopters
Control and reporting centre RAT-31SL/N radar station SINDRE I radar station
Other flying units Other air stations Naval base
An F-16AM landing at RIAT 2014

The RNoAF is organized in five Air Wings. These are divided into a total of one Control and Reporting Centre, nine flying squadrons as well as two ground based air defense units. The former distinctiontion between a Main Air Station (hovedflystasjon) and an Air Station (flystasjon) was replaced by a new distinction between an Air Force Station (flystasjon) and an Air Force Base (Luftforsvarets base).


A Norwegian F-35 Lightning II
AgustaWestland AW101
A Norwegian C-130J

Current inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In Service Notes
Combat Aircraft
F-35 Lightning II United States stealth multirole F-35A 32[40] 12 on order
Maritime Patrol
P-8 Poseidon United States ASW / patrol 5[1]
C-130J Super Hercules United States tactical airlifter C-130J-30 4[1]
Bell 412 United States utility 18[1]
Sikorsky SH-60 United States ASW / patrol MH-60R 6 on order - NH90 replacement[1][41]
AgustaWestland AW101 United Kingdom / Italy SAR / utility 15[1] 1 on order - Sea King replacement[42]
Trainer Aircraft
Saab MFI-15 Safari Sweden basic trainer 16[1]
F-35 Lightning II United States trainer F-35A 8 Providing conversion training at Luke AFB[40]

NOTE: Norway is participating in three NATO programs giving them access to an Airbus A330 MRTT, 3 C-17’s and 5 RQ-4 Global Hawks.[43][44][45] In adittion a Scandinavian Airlines Boeing 737-700 is configured for medical evacuation flights.Operated for the Norwegian Armed Forces and Directorate for Health.[46]


Previous aircraft flown included the Dassault Falcon 20, F-16 Fighting Falcon, North American F-86K, Republic F-84G, F-104 Starfighter, Northrop F-5, Lockheed T-33, Fairchild PT-26, Catalina PB5Y-A, Douglas C-47, DHC-3 Otter, Noorduyn Norseman, Cessna O-1, Bell UH-1B, Bell 47G, P-3 Orion, NHIndustries NH90 and the Westland Sea King helicopter.[47][48][28][49][50]


Main article: Military ranks and insignia of Norway

Commissioned officer ranks

The rank insignia of commissioned officers.

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
 Royal Norwegian Air Force[51]
General Generalløytnant Generalmajor Brigader Oberst Oberstløytnant Major Kaptein/
Løytnant Fenrik

Other ranks

The rank insignia of non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel.

NATO rank scale OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Royal Norwegian Air Force[51]
Sersjantmajor Kommandérsersjant Stabssersjant Oversersjant Vingsersjant Sersjant Ledende spesialist Spesialist Visespesialist Ledende flysoldat Flysoldat

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Hoyle, Craig, ed. (2023). "World Air Forces 2024". Flight Global. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  2. ^ Furrevik, Gro Anita (11 August 2021). "Helikopterpilot tiltrer som ny toppsjef i Luftforsvaret". (in Norwegian). Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  3. ^ Nils N (March 2003). "Luftforsvarets historie" [History of the Royal Norwegian Air Force]. Official Norwegian Defence Force website (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 7 May 2006.
  4. ^ "Finnish Air Force Aircraft of WWII". Retrieved 4 November 2017.[dead link]
  5. ^ "The Norwegian Air Force chief's address to Oslo Military Society in 2004". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  6. ^ Husby, Gabriel (2015). "Norske kampfly i krig: Bombing på klare betingelser?" (PDF). Militære Studier (in Norwegian). Forsvarets stabsskole/FHS. ISSN 1894-2547.
  7. ^ "The Guard at NATO's Northern Gate".
  8. ^ John Pike. "OEF – Operation Desert Lion". Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Dutch MoD on the 1 NLD/NOR EEAW". Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Norway condemns violence in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 19 February 2011. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  11. ^ Egeberg, Kristoffer (20 March 2011). "Vet ikke hvilke farer som møter dem – nyheter". Archived from the original on 25 April 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Her flyr norske jagerfly mot Libya – VG Nett om Libya". 1 January 1970. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  13. ^ kl.12:18 (24 March 2011). "To norske F16-fly har tatt av fra Souda Bay-basen – nyheter". Archived from the original on 27 April 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Jonas Sverrisson Rasch PÅ KRETA (26 March 2011). "Norske fly bombet flybase i Libya i natt – nyheter". Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  15. ^ Martin Skjæraasen. "Norske fly i kamphandlinger i Libya – Aftenposten". Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  16. ^ Jonas Sverrisson Rasch (15 April 2011). "Norske fly har aldri bombet så mye – nyheter". Archived from the original on 18 April 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Bekrefter norske bomber over Tripoli – VG Nett om Libya". 1 January 1970. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  18. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ ESPEN RØST (26 April 2011). "Norske F16-fly angrep Kadhafis hovedkvarter – nyheter". Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  20. ^ "Hardball with Chris Matthews". MSNBC. 4 June 2012. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
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  22. ^ "Norsk bidrag til Operation Ocean Shield". Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  23. ^ "Norwegian Orion found pirates". Archived from the original on 27 October 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  24. ^ Will Worley. "F16 fighter jet saves patient's life by flying medical equipment across Norway". The Independent. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  25. ^ "Norge har inngått kontrakt om kjøp av fem nye P-8A Poseidon maritime patruljefly". 29 March 2017. Archived from the original on 30 March 2017.
  26. ^ "De første F-35 flyene har landet i Norge". 3 November 2017.
  27. ^ "Iceland Air Policing". 15 April 2021. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  28. ^ a b "F-35 takes over QRA mission from F-16". 6 January 2022. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  29. ^ Dubois, Gastón (13 December 2021). "Romania wants to acquire 32 second-hand F-16 for US$ 514 million". aviacionline.
  30. ^ "Romania wants to buy Norwegian F-16". Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  31. ^ "Norway has delivered the first F-16's to Romania". Norwegian Government. 1 December 2023.
  32. ^ "Norway terminates its contract for the NH90". 10 June 2022.
  33. ^ "Seahawk blir Forsvarets nye maritime helikopter". Forsvaret (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  34. ^ "Front page". Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  35. ^ "Evenes". Forsvaret (in Norwegian Nynorsk). Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  36. ^ Loh, Chris (22 November 2021). "The Boeing P-8A Poseidon: Norway's Special New 737-800". Simple Flying. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  37. ^ "Evenes - luftvernet kommer". (in Norwegian). Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  38. ^ Holmelin, Erik. "Planmessige utfordringer for Evenes av Luftforsvarets etablering av Evenes Flystasjon (Planned Measures for Evenes for the Establishing of Evenes Air Station by the Air Force), page 10: Tabell 2.1. Luftforsvarets planer for oppbemanning på Evenes fordelt på funksjoner. Kilde: Luftforsvaret" (PDF).
  39. ^ "Florø-base blir sivil". 21 August 2017.
  40. ^ a b Tonning-Olsen, Sigurd (9 November 2023). "Nye fly til Norge" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Armed Forces. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  41. ^ "Norway orders six Seahawks for the Armed Forces". 15 March 2023. Retrieved 15 March 2023.
  42. ^ "Third Norwegian AW101 handed over". Air Forces Monthly. July 2018. p. 13.
  43. ^ "Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS)". NATO. 23 February 2021. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  44. ^ "Sieben Tankflugzeuge Airbus A330 MRTT für die NATO". Bundeswehr Journal. 25 September 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  45. ^ "Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC)". Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  46. ^ Cite error: The named reference 737med was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  47. ^ "World Air Forces 1955 pg. 652". Archived from the original on 17 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  48. ^ "World Air Forces 1975 pg. 307". Archived from the original on 17 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  49. ^ "Norway terminates NH90 contract". Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  50. ^ Lake, Jon (11 December 2023). "Norway bids farewell to abdicating Sea Kings". Key Publishing. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  51. ^ a b "Militære grader" [Military ranks]. (in Norwegian). Norwegian Armed Forces. 13 October 2023. Archived from the original on 26 November 2023. Retrieved 26 November 2023.