In March, Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defence (Forsvarsdepartement) will solve missions in the international operation Iceland Air Policing (IAP) with the F-35. This is the first foreign mission for the 332 squadron after F-35 reached initial operational capability (IOC) in November 2019. The NATO-country Iceland does not have its own defense and no capacity to meet the country’s need for sovereignty and surveillance. Therefor NATO has periodic air defense presence on Iceland.
The fact that the Royal Norwegian Air Force (Luftforsvaret) F-35 can show operational capability in an operation like this is an important milestone towards full operational capability in 2025, says Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, Major General Tonje Skinnarland. The tasks are similar to those carried out by the Norwegian F-16 from Bodø, the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). On Iceland Norway will be responsible for this task for a period of 3 weeks.
During this period, personnel from CRC Sørreisa will also participate in Iceland Air Policing. This is personnel from the control and alert unit who will assist in forming an surveillance image with their Icelandic colleagues. They will also assist with the training of new Icelandic personnel. The detachment in total consists of 130 soldiers, commanders, officers and civilians.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force becomes the third European country to declare IOC, after the United Kingdom and Italy. Over the last two years, the Royal Norwegian Air Force has conducted intensive operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) of special Norwegian conditions such as winter operations, operations in the northern areas and cooperation with Norwegian Army, Navy and Special Forces. To conclude the test period, the Norwegian Armed Forces spent several days transferring aircraft and equipment from Ørland Air Station to Rygge Air Station (close to the capital Oslo).