Royal Danish Air Force / Flyvevåbnet
By Hans van Herk
Denmark was formed in the 10th century and became a constitutional monarchy in 1849. A neutral country before the last war, it was occupied by Germany in 1940 and became a founder member of NATO in 1949, although its armed forces are still very small.
Denmark's air force area of responsibility includes its homeland, the Faeroe Islands (Færøerne) and the vast icy expanse of Greenland (Grønland). In 1969 the three separate Danish services were placed under unified command by the 1969 Defence Act, but retained their autonomy. The Air Force consisted of two operational Commands - Tactical Air Command (Flyvertaktisk Kommando) with HQ at Karup Air Base and Air Material Command (Flyvemateriel Kommando) with HQ at Værløse Air Base - and a Flying School (Flyveskolen).
In 1999 the Danish Government announced major changes to the armed forces aimed at completing the shift from Cold War home-defence warriors to international expeditionary troops. This programme took five years to be completed (2000 - 2004).
From the start of 2006 the air force has two multi-role frontline F-16 squadrons. Esk 727 and Esk 730 at Skrydstrup Air Base. Apart from their multi-role tasking every single F-16 squadron has an additional task within the armed forces. Esk 727 takes care of the training role and therefore has the major part of the F-16BMs and Esk 730 contributes to the Rapid Reaction Force of NATO and will probably also be responsible for the tactical reconnaissance task formerly performed by Esk 726 at Ålborg Air Base that was disbanded on the 31st of December 2005. Further cost savings have been made by reducing the fleet of active F-16s from 68 to 62 aircraft. This number even dwindled to 48 by 2011. Esk 721, the Danish transport fleet, have replaced their C-130H with four brand-new C-130J-30 Hercules transport aircraft. The three CL604 Challengers are used for VIP-use, maritime reconnaissance and fishery-protection duties. A major refit program with Field Aviation at Toronto (Canada) has been completed, with the aircraft now equipped with a Telephonic surveillance radar and a retractable FLIR.
In 2003 the helicopter fleet of the Danish Armed Forces started a complete reorganisation. The three flying services have lost their autonomy and will come under a unified command (Flyvevabnet Kommando) with HQ at Karup Air Base. All the helicopters have been centralised at Karup Air Base. As a partner within NSHP (Nordic Standard Helicopter Programme) Denmark ordered 14 EH Industries EH101 helicopters. They replaced the eight Sikorsky S-61 helicopters and are used for Search and Rescue and medium transport.
Basic flying training is undertaken at Karup Air Base with the Flying School (Flyveskolen) flying the Saab T-17 Supporter, while the basic/advanced jet training has been switched from the USAF at Sheppard AFB to the NATO flying training center at CFB Moose Jaw and CFB Cold Lake, both in Canada (CT-115 Hawk and CT-156 Harvard II).
Photo: Maurice Hendriks