Four Norwegian Air Force F-35 fighter aircraft have arrived at Keflavik Air Base, Iceland.
The aircraft are now preparing to for the NATO mission providing intercept capabilities for the country.
NATO say that this is the first NATO mission abroad for Norway’s modern fighter aircraft after reaching initial operational capability in November 2019.
“The fact that our F-35s can show operational capability in a NATO mission abroad is an important milestone towards full operational capability in 2025,” said Chief of the Norwegian Air Force, Major General Tonje Skinnarland in a news release.
The Air Policing mission in Iceland is similar to the one carried out by the Norwegian F-16 Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) interceptors from Bodø in northern Norway.
“The arrival of the jets marked the start of the three-week deployment of some 130 military and civilian personnel; Norwegian Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) personnel will be working alongside their Icelandic Coast Guard colleagues in the CRC at Keflavik Air Base. Norway has manned the mission in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2016 with their F-16 fighter aircraft.
NATO member Iceland ensures constant air surveillance within NATO’s Integrated Air and missile Defence System including production of the Recognised Air Picture for the airspace over Iceland and the North Atlantic. However, the Ally does not have its own military capabilities to conduct Air Policing. Therefore, since mid-2008 the Alliance has provided periodic peacetime deployments of fighter assets to meet Iceland’s operational needs.”
Since the beginning of the NATO mission ten Allies (Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States) have manned the regular peacetime deployment.
As the NATO air surveillance radars in Iceland are being upgraded this year, the Canadian Air Force has deployed its mobile radar system to Iceland with crew of 30 to operate the system, according to the Alliance.