After arriving in Keflavik last week; the pilots, operations personnel, engineers and other enabling staff have passed that test and have been awarded 'Full Operational Capability'. Leading the certification process was Luftwaffe Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm May from NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, Germany.
we want to make sure on behalf of the Combined Air Operations Centre's Commander that all those command, control and communication aspects are really running smooth.
He said: "In the Baltic states we have an ongoing, continuous mission, so there is always a handing over of the baton from one detachment to the other. Here, we have breaks in between, so we have a break in this chain and we want to make sure on behalf of the Combined Air Operations Centre's Commander that all those command, control and communication aspects are really running smooth."
RAF pilot Flight Lieutenant Dave Taudevin has been at the heart of the certification process flying assessed sorties. He said: "This is core business for us on the Typhoon Force. We operate Quick Reaction Alert back at home as part of our NATO commitment as well as UK Defence every day of the year, so transposing that to Iceland has been fairly seamless. The jets have stood up to the challenge of the conditions perfectly and the engineering team have done really well to keep aircraft availability high despite the cold and long nights".
He added: "We've been so well supported by Iceland, the Icelandic Coastguard, and by NATO to be able to come out here and to successfully transition into the Iceland NATO Air Policing Mission."
The mission to meet Iceland's peacetime preparedness needs usually involves a deployment of fighter aircraft from Allied nations, typically of around three to four weeks, three times a year. The current rotation is a premiere in the mission's history as it marks the first time the RAF has deployed to the mission. The previous rotation in October was conducted by the Italian Air Force with a detachment of F-35 fighter jets.
Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm May from NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany )left) handed over the mission ready certificate to the detachment commander of the Royal Air Force (right).