Iceland Air Policing is an initiative similar to NATO Air Policing missions over Baltic States or Romania, however there are some differences in comparison to “continental” version. For the first time ever, this mission was accompanied by 5th generation fighters F-35 Lighting II of Italian Air Force.
Iceland is a country without own Air Forces that’s why from 2008 NATO members are performing rotational duties to protect Icelandic airspace. Earlier, the US Air Force base was located there, however it was closed in 2006. Due to this fact, NATO decided to launch Iceland Air Policing mission. However, in contradiction to Baltic or Romanian Air Policing, NATO fighters are present on Iceland only with temporary contingents – about 3 times a year. When on duty, they are based in Iceland Coastguard Air Base in Keflavik, where 4-8 fighters are patrolling Icelandic airspace.
This country provides great conditions for training in severe weather conditions – snow falls or high winds and cold temperatures can be met here every day, what allows pilot to gain additional flying abilities. Apart from Air Policing flights, a training is also being continued in order to keep it on track.
The October’s rotation of NATO forces on Iceland is unique, as this is the first time when F-35 Lighting II, 5th generation fighters, are participating in such venture. On 5th October, 2 days before planned date, F-35 has achieved Full Operational Capability as well as integration with NATO IADS officially starting Iceland Air Policing rotation. Their main tasks are to be airborne ready 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week as well as protect Iceland airspace and support in Search and Rescue missions.
Italian F-35 were in Iceland until end of October and then were be replaced by Eurofighter Typhoon from Royal Air Force.
Have a look at the unique pictures from Keflavik Airbase, showing the F-35 during their deployment to Iceland. Thanks to NATO Allied Air Command and Aeronautica Militare for granting us the possibility to cover this mission.