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Danish Air Force

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Danish Air Force

Royal Danish Air Force
Logo of "Flyvevåbnet"
Founded 1950-10-01
Country  Denmark
 Faroe Islands
Type Air force
Role National Air Defense and Air Superiority
Size 3,476 personnel + 100 conscripts[1]
93 aircraft[2]
Part of Danish Defence Command
Engagements Operation Allied Force (1999)
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Military intervention in Libya (2011)
Chief of Defence General Peter Bartram[3]
Chief of Tactical Air Command Major General Henrik Røboe Dam
RDAF roundel
RDAF fin flash
Aircraft flown
Fighter Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon
Multirole helicopter Westland Super Lynx Mk 90B
Observation helicopter Eurocopter AS 550 Fennec
Utility helicopter AgustaWestland EH101 Merlin
Patrol Bombardier CL-604 Challenger
Trainer Saab MFI-17 Supporter
Transport Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules

The Royal Danish Air Force (Danish: Flyvevåbnet) (RDAF) is the air force of Denmark and is responsible for maintaining homeland defense and carrying out homeland security roles as international operations.[4]


The Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) was formed as a military service independent from the Army and Navy in 1950 from the merger of the Hærens Flyvertropper (Danish Army Air Corps) originally founded on July 2, 1912[5] and the Marinens Flyvevæsen (Danish Naval Air Service) which had been founded on December 14, 1911.[6] All military aviation had been prohibited during the Nazi occupation from 1940 to 1945 and so as of V-E Day the Danish armed forces had no aircraft, but the Luftwaffe had built or expanded air bases in Denmark.

The Danish armed forces received 38 surplus Supermarine Spitfire H. F. Mk. IXE[7] and 3 P.R.Mk. XI in 1947-48[8] plus four additional airframes for ground instruction, which were operated by units of the Hærens Flyvertropper and Marinens Flyvevæsen prior to their merger, and by the Royal Danish Air Force until 1956 when the last examples were retired and all but two scrapped.

One survived for a number of years in a children's playground and the one surviving instructional airframe was later restored to depict the number '401' Spitfire Mk. IX. This airplane is now preserved at Dansk Veteranflysamling at Stauning Airfield in Jylland.[9]

In the 1960s and 1970s the RDAF operated a number of US financed Lockheed F-104G Starfighters, North American F-100D and F-100F Super Sabres, and several other types. In 1971 the Danish army created the Royal Danish Army Flying Service as the first air-unit outside the Air Force, since its creation in 1950. It had observation helicopters and piston-engined artillery spotting aeroplanes. In 1977 the Danish Naval Air Squadron was extracted from squadron 722 to the Danish Navy, and it had ship-based helicopters. In a joint arms purchase four NATO countries: Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, and Belgium introduced the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon as their common fighter-bomber in January 1980. The F-16 was later bought by additional NATO countries, Greece and Turkey, and the United States of America, also a NATO member operates the F-16.

In 1999, following the end of the Cold War, the Danish Air Force was re-organised to be an "expeditionary" air force, capable of supporting international operations worldwide - but at the same time still being able to uphold its domestic air-defense and sea-defense commitments.

In 2002, Denmark joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Team, and eventually up to 48 F-35s could be bought to replace the F-16s.

In October 2002, a tri-national detachment of 18 Danish, Dutch, and Norwegian F-16 fighter-bombers, with one Dutch KC-10 tanker, flew to the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, in support of the NATO ground forces in Afghanistan as part of the Operation Enduring Freedom.

In 2004, the older C-130H Hercules fleet of three transport aircraft (bought by the government in 1973) was replaced by three of the more-advanced and stretched C-130J transport aircraft. A fourth C-130J joined in 2007.

In 2005, a modification program (Mid Life Update) was completed on the remaining F-16 aircraft. The modification programme, started in 1995, introduced a new mission computer, color multifunction displays, and other avionic improvements. Despite the modifications and improvements, the Danish Air Force is considering the replacement of 30 F-16s with a more advanced fighter. Contenders include the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter, Saab Aviation Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon. The decision of the selected type will be announced before the end of June 2015.[10]

In 2003, 16 H-500 Cayuse and 13 Eurocopter AS550C2 Fennec from the Army Flying Service and eight Westland Lynx Mk. 90B from the Naval Air Squadron were supposed to be transferred to the Air Force. The 16 Cayuse and 13 Fennec helicopters were transferred to the newly re-formed Danish Squadron 724. The eight Lynx helicopters were supposed to enter another re-formed squadron, Squadron 728, but for political reasons those helicopters remained with the Navy. This change of "ownership" of the naval helicopters became effective on 1 January 2011 when the naval helicopters joined the newly formed Squadron 723. The Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO), short listed 5 helicopters as potential replacements for the Lynx with around 12 new naval helicopters needed. The Sikorsky/Lockheed MH-60R, the NH90/NFH, H-92, AW159 and AW101 were on the short list and a Request For Proposal was issued on 30 September 2010. Ultimately the Air Force decided to buy 9 Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopters.

In 2005, the 16 Cayuses were decommissioned, an also one of the Fennecs. The remaining 12 Fennecs took over many of the tasks from the Cayuses, including support-functions of the Danish police.

In 2006, the Air Force signed a letter of intent to purchase several of the Boeing Integrated Defense C-17 Globemaster III. That order needs to be confirmed, but it is to be made on the basis of the formation of a shared NATO C-17 air fleet to support international deployments. Denmark has later withdrawn from this arrangement but it is in existence today. See NATO Strategic Airlift Capability. The United States and the United Kingdom have already bought numerous C-17s, and several other NATO countries are considering doing so, too. In June 2007, Denmark’s six EH101 transport helicopters were transferred to the British Royal Air Force to meet an urgent British requirement for additional transport helicopters.[11] and in 2009 6 replacement AW101 were delivered to the Air Force from Agustawestland Yeowil and paid for by the UK.

In June 2010 the Sikorsky S-61 SAR helicopter was withdrawn.


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Royal Danish Air Force Officers School
Danish Air Force bases
Station Nord is beyond the map

All Danish military aircraft have since the early sixties been registered with a pennant letter and the last three digits from the factory serial number.

  • Fighter Wing Skrydstrup based at Skrydstrup AB.
    • Eskadrille 727 and Eskadrille 730:
      • Each squadron: 15[2] General Dynamics F-16AM and F-16BM pennant letters E and ET'
  • Flyveskolen (Flying School) based at Karup AB
  • Air Control Wing
    • Control and Reporting Centre Karup (CRC Karup) based at Karup AB
    • Mobile Air Control Centre (MACC) based at Karup AB
  • Combat Support Wing
    • Wing staff
    • Eskadrille 615 (combat communications)
    • Eskadrille 660 (force protection)
    • Eskadrille 680 (combat service support)
    • Eskadrille 690 (medic)

Outside the wing structure is the school structure with the Royal Danish Air Force Officers School in Jonstruplejren near Værløse and the Royal Danish Air Force Specialist School at Karup AB.


  • From 1960 to 1964 RDAF S-55 helicopters flew missions for UNOC in the Congolese civil war.
  • In 1999 9 F-16 fighters flew sorties over Kosovo from Grazzanise AB, Italy as part of Operation Allied Force.
  • In 2002 and 2003 6 F-16 fighter bombers flew 743 sorties against Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan from Ganci AB, Kyrgyzstan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
  • From July to October 2004, 4 F-16 fighters in Šiauliai, Lithuania, was Denmark's contribution to NATO's Operation Baltic Air Policing. The air policing mission was also undertaken by Danish F-16s in 2009, 2011 and 2013[12]
  • In 2005 three AS550C2 Fennec helicopters were deployed to Iraq for two months to assist the Danish ground forces during the first free elections in the country. In 2007 four Fennecs again deployed to Iraq, this time mainly to provide airborne reconnaissance for convoys on the ground around Basra. The helicopters completed 354 missions before returning home in December 2007.[13]
  • 4 AS550C2 Fennec helicopters belonging to the 724th Squadron of the Helicopter Wing were deployed to Afghanistan on 11 June 2008. These helicopters were based at Camp Bastion, northwest of Lashkar Gar, the capital of Helmand province, and were assigned to provide high altitude observation for Danish ground forces, as well as light transport.[14]
  • From 19 March 2011, 6 F-16 aircraft from Fighter Wing Skrydstrup were deployed to Naval Air Station Sigonella on Sicily to assist in maintaining the no-fly zone over Libya as part of the 2011 coalition intervention in Libya.

Aircraft inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Versions Quantity Unit Notes
Fighter aircraft
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon  US
fighter F-16AM
727 Fighter Squadron
730 Fighter Squadron
Total received: 60x F-16A, 17x F-16B
52x updated to Block 50/52; 15 stored
Transport aircraft
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  US tactical transport C-130J-30 4 721 Squadron
Bombardier CL-604 Challenger  Canada VIP transport CL-604 3 721 Squadron
Trainer aircraft
Saab-MFI 17 Supporter  Sweden basic trainer/liaison MFI-17 27 Flying School at Karup
AgustaWestland EH-101 Merlin  UK
search & rescue
tactical transport
Model 512 SAR
Model 512 TTT
722 Squadron
Westland Lynx  UK naval helicopter Super Lynx Mk 90B 7[15] 723 Squadron ex-Royal Danish Navy
Eurocopter AS 550 Fennec  France recce helicopter AS 550C2 8 724 Squadron ex-Royal Danish Army
Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk  US naval helicopter MH-60R Seahawk 0 723 Squadron 9 ordered to replace Lynx[16]

Between 1980 and 1983 SABCA in Belgium built 46x F-16A and 12x F-16B for the Royal Danish Air Force. Beginning in 1987 Fokker in the Netherlands built a further 8x F-16A and 4x F-16B for the Royal Danish Air Force. In 1994 the Air Force received 3x F-16A and in 1997 a further 3x F-16A and 1x F-16B from surplus USAF stocks. In total the Royal Danish Air Force received 60x F-16A and 17x F-16B.

Retired aircraft of the Royal Danish Air Force and the Danish Army Air Corps

Fighters and bombers





The officer ranks were taken from the Danish army and the insignias were copied from the Royal Air Force with minor differences and are as follows:

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
Denmark Denmark
No equivalent No equivalent
General Generalløjtnant Generalmajor Brigadegeneral Oberst Oberstløjtnant Major Kaptajn Premierløjtnant Løjtnant Sekondløjtnant

The other rank insignia are as follows:

NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Denmark (Edit) No equivalent
Chefsergent Seniorsergent Oversergent Sergent Korporal Flyverspecialist Flyveroverkonstabel
Flyverkonstabel Flyverkonstabelelev

See also

Denmark portal
Greenland portal
Faroe Islands portal


External links

  • Official website of the Danish Royal Air Force

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