In a repeat of last year’s deployment, twelve US F-15C Eagles arrived in Europe over the weekend for six months of training and military deterrence. The F-15s are part of the 131st Fighter Squadron at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, and the 194th Fighter Squadron at Fresno Air National Guard Base, California.
Of the twelve air superiority aircraft, four will head to Iceland for NATO’s air policing mission at Keflavik airbase, while the other eight fly to Leeuwarden airbase in the Netherlands for large scale exercise Frisian Flag.
Theater Security Package
According to the US Air National Guard, the arrival of these F-15s marks the latest US Theater Security Package (TSP) to come to the European theater in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. More to the point, they act as a show of force to Russia and Vladimir Putin in particular.
The current deployment also involves 350 airmen. During their six month European stay, they will also forward deploy to other NATO nations, including Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania. In May, F-15s should also participate in an exercise in Finland.
The US Navy plans a return to Iceland if the most recent budget plans are anything to go by. The plans call for modifications to US facilities at Keflavik airbase in order to host the US Navy’s newest maritime patrol aircraft, the Boeing P-8 Poseidon.
Kevlavik was closed as an active US airbase in 2006 after being home to P-3 Orion patrol aircraft for years and a squadron of F-15 Eagles until the early nineties. Currently, the airfield sees use as a NATO airfield, hosting fighter jets for Iceland Air Policing duties every now and then. The airfield also doubles as Iceland’s civil international airport.
The budget request involves funds for modifying hangars and other installations at Keflavik. The P-8 Poseidon gradually replaces the P-3 in the maritime mission, looking for and hunting submarines. The US Navy has ordered 78 Poseidons, with 33 aircraft already delivered.
For the second time in just one year, Czech Air Force Saab Gripens and their crews made themselves at home in Iceland recently. Flying from Keflavik airbase, they provided Iceland with a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). The deployment began on 23 July and ended on Friday 28 August with 90 sorties and some 150 hours in the air chalked up. An impression in pics.
For the second year in a row Saab JAS 39 Gripen jets of the Czech Air Force provide NATO member Island with is air defence. Five Gripens arrived on 23 July 2015, refueled in mid-air by an Italian Air Force KC-767.
The first operational missions were flown this week, flying from Keflavik Air Base – strategically located in between Europe and North America. From the arrival flight we’ve received some footage from our friends within the Czech Air Force, that we love to share with you.
The five Czech fighter jets are from 211. taktické letky (tactical squadron), which operates 14 of these aircraft. So far the Gripens have only been tasked with air defence, but that will change. As we reported earlier the Czech jets are on their way to do what they have been designed to do: multi-tasking that includes ground attack and close air support.
This time, Sweden provided extensive support for the Czech mission in Iceland. Only six weeks were available for preparing the deployment. The Swedish provided an inventory of spare parts and ground support hardware and contributed by flying a Boeing C-17 from the multi-national Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) to Iceland. The Globemaster flew to Iceland twice, carrying approximately 50 tons of supplies.
UPDATE 24 JULY | Five Czech Air Force Saab Gripens return to Iceland this week for NATO’s Iceland Air Policing mission, a repeat of a similar deployment last year. The aircraft will arrive on Wednesday, supported by an Italian Air Force KC-767 tanker. First missions will take place next week.
Update: the Gripens arrived in Iceland with a one-day delay on Thursday 23 July
The Czech government in Prague agreed to the deployment of four JAS 39 Gripen aircraft earlier this year, with a fifth jet s a reserve. Seventy 70 service personnel are also involved.
This is the fourth deployment of Czech Air Force JAS-39 Gripen fighters to defend NATO nations’ airspace. In 2009 and 2012, Czech Gripens provided Air Policing over the Baltic States, and in 2014 they operated over Iceland for the first time.
US Air Force F-15C Eagles deployed to Iceland earlier this year.