The Luftforsvaret (Royal Norwegian Air Force, RNoAF) marked the end of an era on September 30, when its two-strong fleet of ageing Dassault Falcon 20ECM multi-mission aircraft were flown operationally for the final time – bringing almost 50 years of operations with the type to a close.
To mark the end of Norwegian Falcon 20ECM operations on September 30, the RNoAF’s two aircraft conducted a farewell flypast in formation over parts of western and eastern Norway, before the pair returned to Oslo-Gardermoen Flystasjon (Air Station) for the final time. The retirement of the Falcon 20ECM fleet comes a year earlier than expected, as initial plans established that the fleet would be phased out of operational service in 2023.
The two Falcon 20ECMs – serials 041 (c/n 41) ‘Hugin’ and 053 (c/n 53) ‘Munin’ – were both manufactured in 1966, before being delivered to a Norwegian civil operator in 1969. Both aircraft were acquired by the RNoAF and entered operational service with 335 Skvadron’s (Squadron’s) B-Flight on December 20, 1972, before being modified to carry out electronic countermeasure (ECM) taskings in Montreal, Canada, in 1975. In 1995, the two aircraft were transferred from 335 Skvadron to 717 Skvadron/Forsvarets EK-Støttesenter (FEKS, Armed Electronic Warfare Support) – a unit which operated the Falcon 20ECMs until the fleet was retired from operational service on September 30. The unit is scheduled to be disbanded in 2024.
During its nearly 50 years of service, the Norwegian Falcon 20ECM fleet has been used to carry out electronic warfare, transport and information-gathering missions in both domestic and international environments. The two aircraft have each accumulated more than 25,000 flight hours between them while flying operational missions all over the globe. Going forward, the Falcon 20ECM’s tasks will be absorbed by the RNoAF’s growing fleets of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters and Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).
Commenting on the performance of the now-retired Falcon 20ECM fleet, Tom Kaarby – commander of 717 Skvadron (rank withheld for security reasons) – said: “We have carried out many exciting assignments, right up to the last operational day. We go down with the flag at the top, and have made a difference for Norway and NATO, with a capacity that is in high demand.”