From Iceland with love

Words would only ruin this shot. (Image © Milan Nykodym)
Words would only ruin this shot. (Image © Milan Nykodym)

Iceland. Land of air traffic-disrupting Eyjafjallajökull and Bardarbunga volcanoes, land of a population of 300,000 spread over just under 40,000 square miles of desolate icy, rocky wilderness, land of Tom Clancy’s 1986 novel Red Storm Rising and, these days, land of five Czech Air Force Saab JAS-39 Gripens as part of NATO’s Icelandic Air Policing mission. These exclusive pictures show what it’s all about.

Last February, Airheadsfly.com reported exclusively from the Czech Gripens home plate of Čáslav, with squadron commander Jaroslav Tomaňa already announcing this fall’s deployment to Keflavik, Iceland. On 10 October, the five jet, along with 80 Czech Air Force personnel on board an Italian Air Force KC-767 tanker aircraft, took the route up North to Iceland.

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The Italian Air Force provided air-to-air refueling in the shape of a Boeing KC-767. (Image © Jiri Cermak)
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Same situation, different perspective. (Image © Miroslav Ripa)

Shelters
Soon after arriving, the Gripens flew their first mission, operating from hardened aircraft shelters that were until March 1995 used by the Iceland based F-15 Eagles of the US Air Force’s 57th ‘Black Knights’ Fighter Squadron. Iceland was and always remains a strategic location, especially in these times of international turmoil. The Czech Gripens will remain in Iceland until 3 December 2014.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

(Image © Milan-Nykodym)
The surroundings at Keflavik really do look different from those at Čáslav. Note the live Sidewinder missile under the wing of this Gripen, (Image © Milan Nykodym)
(Image © Tomas Maruscak)
A cold war scene, but not one imaginable 25 years ago. (Image © Tomáš Maruščák / Czech Air Force)
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Patrolling Iceland at cruise level. (Image © Jiri Cermak)
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A fine study of the Italian KC-767 in the air … (Image © Jiri Cermak)
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…. and on the ground. (Image © Tomáš Maruščák / Czech Air Force)
(Image © Tomáš Maruščák / Czech Air Force)
Receiving a NATO certificate. (Image © Tomáš Maruščák / Czech Air Force)
Flying to Iceland means crossing the waters of the North Sea. (Image © Milan Nykodym)
Flying to Iceland means crossing the waters of the North Sea. In those cases, it’s a good thing to have a watchful eye and a helpful hand closeby.  (Image © Milan Nykodym / Czech Air Force)