Draken US, a Texas-based private military contractor, has announced purchasing 12 General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets from the government of Norway. 

The aircraft are going to supplement further the 12 F-16s Draken already purchased from Netherlands, and an assortment of other military jets the company employs. 

“The inclusion of the F-16s into the Draken fleet is transformational,” Joe Ford, the CEO of Draken, is quoted in the company’s Facebook post about the purchase.  

Norway’s F-16s were delivered in the 1980s and have been upgraded to Block 20 variant between the late 1990s and early 2000s.  

In 2017, the Royal Norwegian Air Force began receiving Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighter jets. The country plans to receive up to 52 of them, fully replacing the fleet of F-16s by 2024. 

Norway’s progress mirrors that of the Netherlands. The Royal Netherlands Air Force began receiving their F-35s in 2019, with F-16s phasing out since 2021. 

In June 2021, it was announced that twelve ex-Dutch F-16s will be delivered to Draken. The contract was signed on December 1, 2021, and the deliveries are scheduled to start in 2022. 

The next country in line with F-16s up for grabs could be Denmark. The Royal Danish Air Force inducted its first F-35A in April 2021 and expects to operate it by 2023. The Scandinavian country plans to retire 24 of its total of 43 F-16 fighter jets before 2025.  

Draken is one of the largest private military contractors focused on providing tactical aviation services. It primarily offers airborne adversary support, also known as “red air”, by imitating the enemy in simulated aerial combat.  

The company’s fleet currently consists of Dassault Mirage F1, Atlas Cheetah and MiG-21 fighter jets, as well as Aero L-159 and Douglas A-4 light combat aircraft.  

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The majority of air forces are maintained and commanded by sovereign states, being part of their military structures and having the aim of protecting the country’s interests. However, there is another kind of air forces: the private ones, belonging to commercial companies and offering their services for profit.