Leading the way is Norway, which is set to replace its aging F-16s aircraft with new F-35A fifth-generation planes. With this, Norway will reportedly be the first European country to be fully dependent on the super-advanced American fighter jets for quick reaction missions.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RoNAF) on January 6 marked the historic day when F-35s formally took over the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty, bringing an end to the F-16 fleet’s 42-year mission supporting its own country and NATO.
RoNAF stated that its 57 remaining F-16AM/BM aircraft had been entirely replaced by the F-35As. Bodø Air Base, which was home to the F-16 fleet, will be deactivated as a fighter jet station, and Quick Reaction Alert operations will be carried out from Evenes Air Station, which is located further north. The official transfer of authority from F-16 to F-35 took place at Evenes Air Base.
F-16 fighter planes have been stationed at Bodø, which has remained Norway’s crucial air base throughout the Cold War to date. Bodø’s strategic location facilitates short flying distance to monitor the northern air space.
“The F-35 has now received the baton from F-16, continuing to keep a constant guard. I sense great pride today. The introduction of the new fighter jets has been a great success, thanks to our passionate and talented personnel and partners,” said Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.