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.
Old times relive at Keflavik, where US Air Force F-15 Eagles once guarded the vast North Atlantic skies. Starting this week, F-15s are again based at the Icelandic airbase as part of 871st Air Expeditionary Squadron. The deployment involves F-15s normally based at Lakenheath in the UK.
A total of four F-15 aircraft are deployed, supported by 200 personnel and a KC-135 Stratotanker from RAF Mildenhall, also in the UK. NATO partners take turns in keeping a quick reaction alert at Keflavik. Last year, Czech Saab Gripens made Keflavik their nest.
The airbase was once home to the 57th ‘The Black Knights’ Fighter Interceptor Squadron. In 1995, the squadron was deactivated and Keflavik has since only offered a temporary home to US and other NATO squadrons.
As we wrote earlier here, Iceland is a place of desolate icy, rocky wilderness. Or is it? Czech Air Force Saab JAS 39 Gripen pilots know there’s more to it since taking up NATO’s Iceland Air Policing mission in October. They still have two weeks to go before ending their shift and flying home to Čáslav in the Czech Republic on 3 December.
And what else to do with a lot of time and airspace on your hands? Well, grab a GoPro, shoot some takes and have them edited and shown by Airheadsfly.com exclusively of course! A Gripen pilot took the camera up in the famous Tiger Gripen and found out there’s hotness in Iceland also. We see him taxiing his aircraft in the barren landscape that is Keflavik airbase, we see him filming his wingman in another JAS 39C armed with live AIM-9 air-to-air missiles and longe range fuel tanks, and finally we see him arriving back at the safety of the hardened aircraft shelter.
It is remarkable that the Czech managed to hold together two Quick Reaction Alerts (QRA) simultaneously, seperated by 1,500 miles of land and sea. However, the Czech Air Force commander recently remarked that his air force would be better of with an additional six Gripens on top of just 14 existing aircraft.