Four Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter aircraft arrived at Keflavik Air Base, Iceland on Feb. 19 to perform NATO Air Policing mission.
For the first time the Royal Norwegian Air Force has deployed their F-35’s to an international operation. @NATO #IAP #IcelandAirPolicing #RNoAF #Keflavik #KEF #NATO #NATOAlliedAirCommand pic.twitter.com/YcRW8zYRKJ
— Luftforsvaret (@Luftforsvaret) February 20, 2020
The 130-strong detachment will now support Icelandic Air Policing, a NATO operation conducted to patrol Iceland’s airspace. As Iceland does not have an air force, in 2006 it requested that its NATO allies periodically deploy fighter aircraft to Keflavik Air Base to provide protection of its airspace. The first deployment of aircraft took place in May 2008.
In contrast with the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, the Icelandic Air Policing doesn’t involve the continuous presence of fighter aircraft. Instead, an average of three deployments are made per year, with each lasting from three to four weeks. Most deployments involve four fighter aircraft.
The last Icelandic Air Policing was performed by Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from the UK Royal Air Force (RAF)‘s 1(Fighter) Squadron.
In November last year, Norway became the third European country to declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for its F-35 jets, after the United Kingdom and Italy.
By 2022, the RNoAF will have built up enough F-35s, pilots and maintainers in the country to let the F-35 take over the “quick reaction alert” (QRA) mission, which calls for operators to stand on a 24/7 alert and scramble, if needed, to intercept aircraft flying near Norwegian airspace. These F-35s will be ready for air-policing in Evenes, Northern Norway.
Norway plans to buy 52 F-35A Lightning II jets. They are to be based in Ørland Air Station (main location) and from 2022 also in Evenes Air Station.