Norway’s fleet of F-16 will be replaced by F-35s, in whose development and production the Nordic country has played an important role. The procurement of the 52 warplanes has been described as the largest defence deal in the country’s history.
Romania wants to purchase 32 F-16 fighter jets from Norway. The estimated total budget amounts to EUR 454 million ($514 million), the Norwegian government has said.
“The F-16 aircraft have served the Armed Forces and the nation for over 40 years until they have been replaced by the F-35. I am very pleased that Romania, a NATO ally, wants to buy 32 Norwegian F-16s from us,” Defence Minister Odd-Roger Enoksen of the Centre Party said.
Despite being several decades old, the F-16s were described as a “formidable capacity” expected to give the Romanian air force a significant and rapid boost in their combat power.
In 2019, the Defence Ministry commissioned the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency to dispose of the F-16 system within the current regulations. A resale of the F-16 requires third-party approval from the US authorities and for export, as in this case, an export license from Norway’s own Foreign Ministry is also required.
“The process for selling this type of military equipment to other nations is extensive, and there have also been several players in the market”, Defence Materiel Agency director Mette Sørfonden stated. “Our fighter jets are among the best maintained in the world and they have been regularly upgraded. I am sure that our aircraft will serve Romania well for a number of years to come,” she added.
Kongsberg Aviation Maintenance Services was chosen as a strategic partner of the deal in order to provide support, maintenance and training to Romanian technical personnel.
The Defence Materiel Agency will now begin to explicate the details and finalise the contract between the nations. Before the warplanes are handed over to Romania, they are scheduled to undergo maintenance. According to the plan, the first aircraft will be delivered in 2023 and the last in 2024.
The Norwegian Armed Forces have a total of 57 F-16 aircraft that can potentially be sold, but some of these will be too expensive to put up for sale and will be decommissioned.
Norway’s F-16 will be replaced by the F-35, in whose development, production and support the country has played an important part. Since the programme’s inception, 18 Norwegian companies have served as Tier 1 F-35 suppliers. Consequently, Norway decided to procure 52 F-35s in a deal billed as the largest for the country’s armed forces.
In 2020, the Royal Norwegian Air Force conducted its first international deployment with the F-35 during NATO Air Policing missions in Iceland.