334 skv was equipped with the F-16 in 1982 and was the second Norwegian squadron to become fully operational on the type. Also stationed at Bodø AB the unit played an important role in the defence of the northern NATO flank. 334 skv was specifically tasked with protecting the Norwegian coastline (which is one of the longest in the world) through a maritime strike role.
In the F-5 and F-104 days, the Bullpup anti-shipping missile was used to perform this mission. However, in the late seventies this missile no longer satisfied the needs of the Norwegians. Therefore they asked the Kongsberg Company to design a brand-new missile to perform this task. The Penguin Mk. 3 anti-shipping missile was developed according to the specifications. It is a fire-and-forget missile for attacks against naval targets. It was flight tested against the AGM-65, AGM-68, AM-39 and AS-34 missiles but out performed them all in the specific Norwegian fjords environment. The RNoAF is the only one in the world to operate this weapon until this day. The USAF has tested it (and even gave it its own designation – AGM-119) but never adopted the missile. First deliveries of the missile occurred in 1987.
RNoAF F-16A block 15 #660
from 334 skv is passing the lens at Aalborg AB on August 26th, 1992 during a TAM exercise. [Airliners.net
photo by Joop de Groot]
Since the end of the Cold War and certainly with the introduction of the MLU version of the F-16, all squadrons are multi-role. However the main task of 334 skv stays with maritime interdiction. With the introduction of the M2 software tape, the Norwegians decided to integrate the PANTERA targeting pod onto their F-16s. This vastly expands the possibilities of the aircraft and also of the Penguin Mk. 3 missile. However, since only 57 airframes were to be upgraded with MLU, the Norwegian government decided to only retain three operational squadrons. After having operated the MLU F-16 for only two years, the squadron was disbanded in 2002. It will be activated again in 2008 as a NH-90 helicopter squadron operating from Sola AB.
RNOAF F-16AM #658
with 334 skv markings, but belonging to 331 skv, here seen on the Florennes AB taxiway during a TLP session in February, 2004. [Photo by Maurits Even]