Ørland Main Air Station
|Ørland Main Air Station|
|Operator||Royal Norwegian Air Force|
|Elevation AMSL||9 m / 28 ft|
Ørland Main Air Station (IATA: OLA, ICAO: ENOL) (Norwegian: Ørland hovedflystasjon) is situated at the mouth of the Trondheimsfjorden in the municipality of Ørland in Trøndelag county in the center of Norway. Ørland is operated by the Royal Norwegian Air Force and is an important air base not only for Norway, but also for NATO. The air station is the base of F-16 fighter aircraft, Westland Sea King search and rescue helicopters and a location for E-3A Sentry AWACS. It is also the host of many NATO exercises.
In addition, Danish Air Transport operates a scheduled route with an ATR 42 (Most commonly an ATR 42-320/500) 36-48 seater aircraft to Oslo Airport, Gardermoen operating 2 daily rotations, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon (Typical rush hours).
Air Wing 138 is stationed at the main air station. Under it are most operations at the air station, including Squadron 338, the Luftvernartilleribataljon (GBAD unit), the Base-Set I (mobile QRF unit), but not the Squadron 330.
The Norwegian F-16 IRF (Immediate Reaction Force) is stationed here together with support administration. The squadron can act independently without support from the host nation. The Squadron 338 has half the Royal Norwegian Air Force' 57 F-16 aircraft and has 22 pilots.
Ørland is the only air station in Northern Europe that has ground handling equipment for the E-3A Sentry AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System). It is considered a forward operations location (FOL), but not a base for these aircraft.
World War II
Ørland Main Air Station was built by the prisoners of war (mostly Serbs, Russians and Poles) exploited by the occupation forces in 1941 during the German occupation. The Germans wanted an airfield so that they could interdict the allied convoys to Murmansk. At first, German Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors were stationed here. In June 1942, a squadron of Junkers Ju 87 Stukas rebased here, later a squadron of Messerschmitt Bf 109s and then a squadron of Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters.
The Germans decided to expand the airfield and built a second runway in 1944. This was later made the main runway. The Germans then made several taxiways and started planning a third runway. However, the war ended before the plans could be completed. 7000 Germans were stationed at Ørlandet during the war, with about 10 000 prisoners of war used as a work force. This meant that, at the end of the war, the Germans left a fully armed, defended airfield with docks, infrastructure and a cannon taken from the battleship Gneisenau.
After the war, a Norwegian Spitfire squadron was stationed here, but in 1946 the airfield was closed. All buildings were torn down and the wood transported to northern Norway to help rebuild Finnmark which the Germans had left in ruins. After that, the airfield was used for sporadic exercises.
It wasn't until 1950 that the government decided that the airfield should be made a permanent deployment-airfield. In 1952, a new runway had been made, and in 1954, it was expanded to handle NATO forces. It was then the airfield got today's looks. In October 1954, Squadron 338 was rebased from Sola and remains as the only fighter force at the airfield.
In the summer of 1958, the SAM battery was established, and in August 1970, the detachment from Squadron 330 arrived. In November 1983, the airfield was customized to handle the NATO E-3A AWACS which routinely visits from Geilenkirchen to sustain the surveillance chain at the NATO border.
In February 2012 a proposition was passed in Stortinget which will make Ørland the principal airbase of Norway and also replacing Bodø. The decision to move the other air station Bodø to Ørland is mainly due to the retreat from Cold War-era practices and the incorporation of the new F-35 Lightning II jet fighter into the Royal Norwegian Airforce which were recently ordered by the Norwegian government from Lockheed.
- Headquarters United States Marine Corps (2015). "Prepositioning Programs Handbook" (PDF). United States Marine Corps. p. 27.
- Royal Norwegian Air Force page on Ørland (in Norwegian)