"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. 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.
One of the four Norwegian Air Force F-35 touching down at Keflavik Air Base deploying its brake chute. Photo by Sigurd Tonning Olson.
The fact that the Norwegian F-35s can show operational capability in a NATO mission abroad is an important milestone towards full operational capability in 2025
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 showcasing Allied cohesion and solidarity as well as deterrence and defence under the NATO banner.
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.