KEFLAVIK, Iceland - An F-15C Eagle flies over Iceland
Since early 2008, following the withdrawal of US forces, NATO has maintained a mission entitled "Airborne surveillance and interception capabilities to meet Iceland’s peacetime preparedness needs”.
As Iceland does not have its own national air force, NATO provides a periodic peacetime air defence presence to meet Iceland’s needs. Given its unique geographical location, Allies, in conjunction with the Icelandic authorities, have agreed that the appropriate response is to maintain a periodic presence of NATO fighter aircraft based at Keflavik. The "peacetime preparedness” mission usually involves a deployment (typically of around three-four weeks, three times a year) of fighter aircraft from Allied nations. These aircraft are used to conduct air defence flying training missions, and also to provide the necessary degree of training of NATO and Icelandic support personnel to make sure that the Alliance could conduct a full-scale peacetime air-policing mission at the shortest possible notice if required by real world events.
At the beginning of each deployment, Allied aircraft, ground crews and fighter controllers demonstrate the capability to conduct air-policing activities throughout Icelandic airspace. This capability demonstration involves arming and disarming NATO aircraft before and, usually, after a quick-reaction training "scramble”, which is conducted to exercise the air surveillance and control system, and other Icelandic support personnel from Keflavik.
The ‘peacetime preparedness mission’ benefits both the deploying Allied nation and Iceland, as it ensures Icelandic ground and support staff have the necessary level of skill and preparedness to integrate effectively with Allied air forces. It benefits the nations who take part, as their pilots have the chance to train in a different and challenging environment. And it benefits the cohesion and resolution of the Alliance as a whole, since it shows NATO’s clear determination to provide the appropriate level of security for all members, and ensures that there is a sufficient skills base to do so.
Since the mission began in 2008, the following Allies have taken part:
2008: France, USA
2009: Denmark, Norway, USA
2010: Denmark, Germany, USA
2011: Canada, Norway, USA
2012: Germany, USA, Portugal