Royal Danish Air Force

Royal Danish Air Force
Royal Danish Air Force
Logo of "Flyvevåbnet"
Founded 1950-10-01
Country  Denmark
Type Air force
Role National Air Defense and Air Superiority
Size 3,400 personnel + 100 conscripts[1]
119 aircraft[2]
Engagements Operation Allied Force (1999)
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Military intervention in Libya (2011-present)
Chief of Defence General Knud Bartels
Chief of Tactical Air Command Major General Henrik Røboe Dam
RDAF roundel Royal Danish Air Force Roundel.svg
RDAF fin flash Flag of Denmark (state).svg
RDAF TF-100F Super Sabre survivor, 2006
RDAF F-16 MLU at the 2005 Radom Air Show

The Royal Danish Air Force (Danish: Flyvevåbnet) (RDAF) is the air force of Denmark with the capability to undertake homeland defense and homeland security roles as well international operations.



All military aviation was prohibited during the Nazi occupation, 1940-45. At 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 [3] and 3 P.R.Mk. XI in 1947-48 [4] which were operated by units of Hærens Flyvertropper (Danish Army Air Corps) founded 1912-07-02[5] and Marinens Flyvevæsen (Danish Naval Air Service) founded 1911-12-14.[6] Four additional airframes were acquired for ground instruction.

The two air services were merged in 1950 to form the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF)[4] as a third and independent military service and the Spitfires continued in service until 1956 when the last serviceable 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 Jutland.[7]

RDAF F-100 Super Sabre patch

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 the 48 fighters with a more advanced fighter. Contenders include the Boeing F/A-18EF Super Hornet, the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter, and the Saab Aviation Gripen. The Eurofighter Typhoon fighter was withdrawn from the competition on the grounds that the changes in the bidding process made that company think that the American or Swedish airplanes were favored in it.

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 will happen as of 1 January 2011 where the naval helicopters will form Eskadrille 723 according to the latest political defense agreement.[8] The Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO), have 5 new types on a short list for replacing the Lynx with around 12 new naval helicopters. The Sikorsky/Lockheed MH-60R, the NH90/NFH, H-92, AW159 and AW101. The Request For Proposal was issued on 30 September 2010. A decision is expected in 2011.[9] [10]

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]

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


Danish Air Force AW101 hoisting from water

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.
  • Flyveskolen (Flying School) based at Karup AB
    • 27[12] SAAB-MFI T-17 pennant letter T
  • 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)

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 Specility 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 and 2011 [13]
  • 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. [14]
  • 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.[15]
  • 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

T-17 Supporter at RIAT 2010.
Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[12] Notes
Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon  Belgium
 United States
fighter F-16AM
30 original batch of 58
license-built by SABCA,
later surplus USAF
Bombardier CL-604 Challenger  Canada VIP transport CL-604 3
Eurocopter AS 550 Fennec  France observation helicopter AS 550C2 8 ex-Royal Danish Army
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  United States tactical transport C-130J-30 4
AgustaWestland EH101 Merlin  Italy
 United Kingdom
transport/rescue helicopter Merlin 14
Westland Lynx  United Kingdom naval helicopter Super Lynx Mk 90B 7[16] ex-Royal Danish Navy
Saab MFI-17 Supporter  Sweden elementary trainer/
MFI-17 27


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 RDAF Gen.svg RDAF Lt Gen.svg RDAF Maj Gen.svg RDAF Brig Gen.svg RDAF Col.svg RDAF Lt Col.svg RDAF Maj.svg RDAF Capt.svg RDAF 1st Lt.svg
RDAF Fly Off.svg RDAF 2nd Lt.svg
No equivalent
General Generalløjtnant Generalmajor Brigadegeneral Oberst Oberstløjtnant Major Kaptajn Premierløjtnant
Flyverløjtnant Løjtnant

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 Værnepligtig sergent (No longer in use) Korporal Flyverspecialist Flyveroverkonstabel Flyverkonstabel

See also


External links

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