The air defence of Iceland is (almost) fully in Nordic hands the coming months, as fellow Scandinavian Norwegians have taken over the NATO Air Policing role on Iceland from the Americans as of 28 January 2014. They will start their tour of duty with something nice: the Iceland Air Meet 2014 (IAM 2014) that will also see Swedish and Finnish fighter jets in a military involvement on Iceland for the very first time.
During the Cold War Keflavik Airbase, near the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, was a strategic key point for the American military. Since 2006 NATO countries in turn provide the air guard for the island nation of 320,000 people. Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s have provided this NATO Quick Reaction Alert of four aircraft twice before, in 2009 and 2011.
As the Nordic nations are intensifying their co-operation, the Icelandic government has invited Swedish and Finnish combat jets to the island. For the non-NATO Flygvapnet JAS 39 Gripens and Ilmavoimat F/A-18 Hornets it will be the first military involvement ever in the skies over NATO member Iceland. Finland is the only non-NATO country with a fully NATO-qualified fighter unit, while ‘neutral’ Sweden has a second-in-line commitment to NATO’s Air Force.
During IAM 2014 the Norwegian air bases of Ørland and Bodø will be used as staging areas and logistic hubs. Bodø is a planned stop-over for the Finnish helicopters involved, and might be as well for the Swedish Gripens and Finnish Hornets.
This is the NATO-Nordic force during IAM 2014:
- 1 Icelandic Coast Guard (Landhelgisgaeslan) De Havilland Canada (Bombardier) DHC-8-314Q Dash 8 with reg. TF-SIF
- 2 Icelandic Coast Guard (Landhelgisgaeslan) Aérospatiale (Eurocopter) AS332L1 Super Puma with reg. TF-LIF and TF-GNA
- 6 Royal Norwegian Air Force (Luftforsvaret) Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon from 331/332 skvadron Bodø Airbase (4 are deployed as NATO’s QRA on Iceland the coming months), plus 110 personnel
- 7 Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen from 212:a stridsflygdivision (212 Wing) of F21 Luleå-Kallax air base, supported by 2:a flygbasbataljonen and staff personnel. Plus personnel from the Swedish Air Combat School (Luftstridsskolan) for command, control and ground protection.
- 1 Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) TP 84 (C-130) Hercules equipped with in-flight refueling system from F7 Såtenäs Airbase, supported by transport personnel from F17 Ronneby and medical personnel from I19.
- 5 Finnish Air Force (Ilmavoimat) McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet from 21 HävLLv Satakunnan Lennosto (Satakunta Flygflottilj / 21 Satakunta Wing) from Tampere/Pirkkala
- 2 Finnish Army (Maavoimat) NH90 SAR from 1.HK/HekoP (Helikopteripataljoona / 1st Helicopter Squadron) from Utti
- 1 NATO Boeing E-3A Sentry from Geilenkirchen, during IAM 2014 based at Ørland Airbase in Norway
- 1 Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht) KDC-10 tanker aircraft from 334 Squadron from Eindhoven Airbase
- 1 USAFE Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 100th Air Refueling Wing from RAF Mildenhall
At the time of writing no confirmation on serial numbers yet.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger based on source information from Forsvaret (Norwegian MoD) / Forsvarsmakten Sverige (Swedish Defence Forces) / Puolustusvoimat (Finnish MoD) / Landhelgisgaeslan (Icelandic Coast Guard)
- Finland is the only non-NATO country with a fully NATO-qualified fighter unit
- ‘neutral’ Sweden has a second-in-line commitment to NATO’s Air Force
- American Eagles go Baltic