Ørland Main Air Station (Norwegian: Ørland hovedflystasjon) is situated at the mouth of the Trondheimsfjord in the municipality of Ørland, 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.
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.
The Germans decided to expand the airfield, and in addition to the runway they built first they made another one 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 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.
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.