Royal Norwegian Air Force deploys F-35 fighters in reactivated mountain base

Martin Mellquist / Forsvaret

Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-35 jets were deployed to Bardufoss Air Station on June 13, 2024, thereby reactivating its mountain hangar after four decades of inactivity. 

Established in 1938, Bardufoss Air Station is managed by the RNoAF 131 Air Wing, providing substantial protection measures for combat aircraft. The revived mountain hangar, which has received enhancements for modern operational use, is expected to increase national and allied fighter aircraft activity in the Indre-Troms region over time. 

“The air station plays an important role in the further development of Norwegian, Nordic and allied air power,” said Brigadier Tron Strand, head of the Joint Air Operations Center (JAOC). “The ability to disperse and quickly move air forces has a high focus in NATO through the development of the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept.” 

Learning from the conflict in Ukraine, where permanent facilities and parked aircraft are being systematically targeted, the RNoAF has emphasized the need for better ground survivability. While air defenses can protect bases such as Evenes and Ørland, dispersing combat aircraft across multiple airports and air stations in Norway and the Nordic countries is deemed essential during wartime. 

“Bardufoss airport is well suited to take a prominent role in the distribution concept,” explained Colonel Eirik Stueland, commander of 131 Air Wing. “At Bardufoss, due to the existing infrastructure, we will also be able to play a larger role in an initial mobilization phase. The mountain facility can also be used to receive allies.” 

Within NATO, this concept is known as Agile Combat Employment. Dating back to the Cold War era, it has found renewed interest as the return of high-intensity warfare looms. During wartime, dispersed operations allow an air force to complicate enemy targeting by multiplying operating locations using civilian airfields or improvised road bases. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

AeroTime is on YouTube

Subscribe to the AeroTime Hub channel for exclusive video content.

Subscribe to AeroTime Hub