While the U.S. Air Force fighter detachment in Bulgaria concluded last weekend, the mission in Iceland will do so this Friday. In both cases the deployment of air power at the flanks of the Alliance demonstrated the U.S. commitment to NATO; however, both cases were different when it comes to how mission execution is approached.
These concurrent U.S. deployments are a powerful expression of the Alliance's transatlantic link and the solidarity among Allies
“These two concurrent U.S. deployments to the High North and the Southeastern Flank of NATO are a powerful expression of the Alliance’s transatlantic link and the solidarity among Allies when it comes to security, deterrence and defence,“ said Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations at Allied Air Command. “They also showcase the agile employment of U.S. Air Force assets as they continue to enhance readiness and proficiency while integrating with our Allies,” he added.
The U.S. F-16 fighter detachment deployed at Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria, from their home base at Aviano, Italy, conducted NATO enhanced Air Policing showcasing Alliance cohesion, commitment and deterrence. The U.S. team worked and trained closely with their Bulgarian colleagues securing the Ally’s airspace bordering on the Black Sea. The deployment was overseen by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejón, Spain; it enabled both Allies to hone their flying skills and further develop interoperability and cooperation.
The U.S. F-15 fighter detachment deployed at Keflavik, Iceland, from their home base at Lakenheath, United Kingdom, executed NATO’s 24/7 mission of Air Policing demonstrating readiness, vigilance and cooperation. The mission in Iceland is one example of how NATO provides collective security through Air Policing. Since 2008, the Ally in the High North has hosted several multi-week deployments each year of Allied fighter jets. NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany and the Control and Reporting Centre at Keflavik, Iceland controlled the mission and the Icelandic Coast Guard ensured search and rescue support.