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Icelandic Air Policing
An USAF F-15 Eagle fighter flying over Iceland during an Icelandic Air Policing patrol in September 2010
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
Executed by NATO
Outcome Ongoing

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.

Background[edit | edit source]

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(USAF) ceased deploying fighter units to Keflavik Air Base in September 2006, and the U.S. Iceland Defense Force was withdrawn.[1][2] Following the American withdrawal Russian Air Force 37th Air Army aircraft entered Icelandic airspace on several occasions.[3]

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.[1] The other NATO member states who lack the ability to patrol their own airspace have similar arrangements in place.[4] 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".[5]

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.[6]

Deployments[edit | edit source]

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.[1] Instead, an average of three deployments are made per year, with each lasting from two to three weeks.[7]

As of January 2013, the following deployments have been made to Iceland:[8]

Dates Nationality Unit Aircraft Notes
5 May – 30 June 2008  France EC 01.002 Cigogne 4 x Mirage 2000[9]
September 2008 United States 48th Fighter Wing ? x F-15 Eagle[10][11]
March 2009 Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark Eskadrille 727 and Eskadrille 730[8] 4 x F-16 Fighting Falcon[12]
? 2009  Norway Royal Norwegian Air Force[8] ?
? 2009 United States United States Air Force[8] ?
8 – 29 March 2010 Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark Eskadrille 727 and Eskadrille 730 4 x F-16 Fighting Falcon[12][13] This deployment included two ground intercept controllers from the Estonian Defence Forces.[14]
1 – 25 June 2010  Germany Jagdgeschwader 71 6 x F-4 Phantom II[15]
6 – 24 September 2010 United States 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing 8 x F-15 Eagle[16]
28 March – 30 April 2011  Canada 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron 5 x CF-18 Hornet[17][18]
? 2011  Norway Royal Norwegian Air Force[8] ?
? 2011 United States United States Air Force[8] ?
5 March – 2 April 2012  Germany Jagdgeschwader 71 6 x F-4 Phantom II[19]
1 May – 7 June 2012 United States 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle[20][21]
7 August–20 September 2012  Portugal 201 and 301 Squadrons 6 x F-16 Fighting Falcon Detachment had a strength of 70 personnel[22]
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[23]
June 2013  Italy Italian Air Force 6 x Eurofighter Typhoon
2 x KC-767
1 x C-130J Super Hercules
About 150 personnel deployed[24]

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.[25][26] 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.[27]

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.[4]

Future deployments[edit | edit source]

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.[28]

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.[29] 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.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "French Air Force in Iceland". Ministry for Foreign Affairs. 5 May 2008. http://www.mfa.is/speeches-and-articles/nr/4240. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  2. Schogol, Jeff (29 September 2006). "U.S. pledges continued defense help after Keflavik base closes". http://www.stripes.com/news/u-s-pledges-continued-defense-help-after-keflavik-base-closes-1.54773. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  3. Cornwell, Susan (30 May 2008). "Condoleezza Rice defends Guantanamo". http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKL3093712420080530. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Air Policing". NATO Air Command Operations. http://www.aco.nato.int/page142085426.aspx. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  5. Bases, Daniel (14 March 2010). "Iceland sees more Russian flights in N. Atlantic". http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1461960020080314. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jennings, Gareth (2 January 2012). "NATO approves Swedish, Finnish participation in Icelandic mission". p. p. 6. 
  7. Skarphéðinsson, Össur (14 May 2010). "Iceland's Interests and a Responsible Foreign Policy (executive summary)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. p. 7. http://www.mfa.is/media/Skyrslur/Executive-summary.pdf. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 "Iceland's "Peacetime Preparedness Needs"". Allied Command Operations. http://www.aco.nato.int/icelands-peacetime-preparedness-needs.aspx. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  9. "News briefs". Avenel, New Jersey: Key Publishing. June 2008. p. p. 13. ISSN 0306-5634. 
  10. Dewitte, Lieven (5 March 2009). "Four Danish F-16s deployed to Iceland". F-16 Conflict News. F-16.net. http://www.f-16.net/news_article3298.html. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  11. Mladenov, Alexander (August 2009). "The Russian bear gets restless again". Avenel, New Jersey: Key Publishing. p. p. 63. ISSN 0306-5634. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "F-16s in Operation Iceland Air Policing and Surveillance". F-16 Aircraft Database. F-16.net. http://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/F-16/aircraft-combat-deployments/deployment/Iceland%20Air%20Policing%20and%20Surveillance/. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  13. Hansen, Kurt. "Icelandic Air Policing and Surveillance (ISLAPS) for NATO - Royal Danish Air Force is doing it again!". Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. https://archive.is/u3ER. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  14. TBT staff (9 March 2008). "Estonia to patrol Iceland airspace". http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/22481/. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  15. "German Air Force ensures protection of the Icelandic Airspace for the first time". Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. https://archive.is/Gbsn. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  16. Linch, Stephen (21 September 2010). "RAF Mildenhall Airmen fuel NATO's Icelandic Air Policing Mission". Royal Air Force Lakenheath. http://www.lakenheath.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123222927. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  17. "Operation IGNITION". Past Operations. National Defence and the Canadian Forces. http://www.cefcom-comfec.forces.gc.ca/pa-ap/ops/ignition/index-eng.asp. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  18. "Canadian Hornets to conduct NATO’s Icelandic Air Policing Mission at Keflavik". Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein. Archived from the original on 23 Jul 2012. https://archive.is/fCar. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  19. Fiorenza, Nicholas. "Luftwaffe To Police Icelandic Airspace". Ares. Aviation Week. http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a0835fe1f-15ab-471a-9ac8-be31d96b7bb7&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  20. Horn, Lyndsey (23 May 2012). "Air Force, NATO fly to protect Iceland's air sovereignty". News. US Air Force. Archived from the original on 3 Aug 2012. http://archive.is/jInG. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  21. Horn, Lyndsey (23 May 2012). "EFS flies to protect Iceland's air sovereignty". News. U.S. Air Forces in Europe. http://www.usafe.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123302906. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  22. ICELAND Air Policing 2012
  23. "Operation Ignition 2013 to help protect Iceland’s airspace". National Defence and the Canadian Forces. March 25, 2013. http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?id=4702. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  24. Cenciotti, David (11 June 2013). "Italy's Typhoon Jets Can Fly Over Iceland Now". http://www.businessinsider.com/david-cenciotti-italys-typhoon-jets-fly-over-iceland-david-cenciotti-2013-6?IR=T. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  25. "Typhoons in Iceland not forecast". Avenel, New Jersey: Key Publishing. June 2009. p. p. 8. ISSN 0306-5634. 
  26. Hoyle, Craig (25 November 2008). "UK cancels Typhoon's Icelandic air policing duty". Flight International. http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/11/25/319322/uk-cancels-typhoons-icelandic-air-policing-duty.html. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  27. Glowacki, Bartosz; Sobczak, Grzegorz (8 June 2010). "Polish military continues expeditionary focus". Flightglobal. http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2010/06/08/342796/polish-military-continues-expeditionary-focus.html. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  28. Kominek, Jiri (26 April 2012). "Czech MoD seeks approval for Icelandic air-policing mission". 
  29. Kinnunen, Terhi (31 October 2012). "Finland, Sweden to help NATO in Iceland air policing". http://news.yahoo.com/finland-ready-help-icelands-air-surveillance-pm-katainen-093118682.html. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 

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