Icelandic Air Policing
|Icelandic Air Policing|
A USAF F-15 Eagle fighter flying over Iceland during an Icelandic Air Policing patrol in September 2010
|Objective||Regular patrols of Icelandic airspace|
|Date||Periodically since May 2008|
Icelandic Air Policing is a NATO operation conducted to patrol Iceland's airspace. As Iceland does not have an air force, in 2006 it requested that its NATO allies periodically deploy fighter aircraft to Keflavik Air Base to provide protection of its airspace. The first deployment of aircraft took place in May 2008.
As Iceland does not maintain an air force, the country was left without means to patrol its airspace when the United States Air Force (USAF) ceased deploying fighter units to Keflavik Air Base in September 2006, and the U.S. Iceland Defense Force was withdrawn. Following the American withdrawal Russian Air Force 37th Air Army aircraft entered Icelandic airspace on several occasions.
Prime Minister Geir Haarde requested that Iceland's NATO allies assume responsibility for protecting Iceland's airspace during the Riga Summit in November 2006. The North Atlantic Council agreed to this request at its July 2007 meeting. The other NATO member states who lack the ability to patrol their own airspace have similar arrangements in place. In March 2008, Prime Minister Haarde denied that the air policing operation was targeting Russian aircraft, and stated that "it is going to be a general patrolling exercise. We consider Russia to be our friends, by the way".
As of January 2013, NATO had re-designated the deployments to Iceland as being the "Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet Iceland's Peacetime Preparedness Needs" mission, and emphasised to reporters that it was focused on training rather than air policing.
In contrast with the Baltic Air Policing mission, which involves the continuous presence of fighter aircraft from NATO countries at Šiauliai International Airport in Lithuania, the Icelandic Government requested that NATO not maintain a permanent force at Keflavik. Instead, an average of three deployments are made per year, with each lasting from two to three weeks.
As of January 2014, the following deployments have been made to Iceland:
|5 May – 30 June 2008||France||EC 01.002 Cigogne||4 x Mirage 2000||Deployment had a strength of 110 personnel|
|September 2008||United States||48th Fighter Wing||? x F-15 Eagle|
|March 2009||Denmark||Eskadrille 727 and Eskadrille 730||4 x F-16 Fighting Falcon|
|? 2009||Norway||Royal Norwegian Air Force||?|
|? 2009||United States||United States Air Force||?|
|8 – 29 March 2010||Denmark||Eskadrille 727 and Eskadrille 730||4 x F-16 Fighting Falcon||This deployment included two ground intercept controllers from the Estonian Defence Forces.|
|1 – 25 June 2010||Germany||Jagdgeschwader 71||6 x F-4 Phantom II|
|6 – 24 September 2010||United States||493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing||8 x F-15 Eagle|
|28 March – 30 April 2011||Canada||409 Tactical Fighter Squadron||5 x CF-18 Hornet|
|? 2011||Norway||Royal Norwegian Air Force||?|
|? 2011||United States||United States Air Force||?|
|5 March – 2 April 2012||Germany||Jagdgeschwader 71||6 x F-4 Phantom II|
|1 May – 7 June 2012||United States||493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron|| ? X F-15 Eagle
? X KC-135 Stratotanker
? X C-130J Hercules
|7 August–20 September 2012||Portugal||201 and 301 Squadrons||6 x F-16 Fighting Falcon||Detachment had a strength of 70 personnel|
|18 March – 28 April 2013||Canada||425 Tactical Fighter Squadron||6 x CF-18 Hornet
1 x CC-150 Polaris
|Detachment consists of 160 Canadian Forces personnel|
|7 June - 10 July 2013||Italy||Italian Air Force 4th, 36th and 37th Stormo (Wings)||6 x Eurofighter Typhoon
2 x KC-767
1 x C-130J Super Hercules
|About 150 personnel deployed|
|November 2013||United States||493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 48th Air Expeditionary Group||6 x F-15 Eagle
2 x Boeing KC-135
|27 January – 21 February 2014||Norway||Royal Norwegian Air Force||6 x F-16 Fighting Falcon||About 110 personnel deployed |
|16 May – June 2014||United States||48th Air Expeditionary Group||6 x F-15 Eagle
1 x Boeing KC-135
A planned deployment of four British Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons from No. 3 (F) Squadron in December 2008 was cancelled as a result of the Icesave dispute between Britain and Iceland. Poland also cancelled a planned deployment of F-16 fighters to Iceland in 2010 due to the impact of the financial crisis of 2007–2010.
Fighter aircraft deployed to Iceland are accompanied by NATO Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft to enhance the Iceland Air Defence System radar network as well as other supporting aircraft as required.
In April 2012, the Czech Ministry of Defence asked the government to approve a deployment of four Czech Air Force Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters to Iceland in late 2014. Under the terms of this deployment, the Czech aircraft would be on alert to move to Iceland from September to late December, but would only spend three weeks deployed in the country.
In October 2012, the governments of Finland and Sweden announced that, at the request of Iceland, they would contribute forces to the air policing mission during 2014. The North Atlantic Council formally approved the participation of these countries on 19 December that year. It is planned that the Finnish and Swedish forces will be deployed between January and April 2014; at this time Norway will lead the forces in Iceland and will sponsor the presence of the other national forces.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to NATO Icelandic air policing mission.|
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