NATO’s Northern Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany, certified the Polish Air Force F-16 detachment based in Keflavik, Iceland, mission ready to conduct NATO Air Policing of the skies in the High North. This is the first time that Polish fighter aircraft have joined the NATO mission in the region. As of Monday, September 6, the Polish Air Force F-16 will be patrolling the skies above Iceland for three weeks. The detachment will be on 24/7 standby with their four fighter aircraft ready to safeguard the skies and continue the long-standing enduring mission of NATO Air Policing over Iceland.
“As a member of the Polish Air Force I am proud to see my compatriots here at Iceland, demonstrating their skills and their level of integration into NATO’s enduring Air Policing mission. The Polish Air Force shows their commitment to the Alliance here and at home,” said Brigadier General Slawomir Zakowski, Deputy Commander of CAOC Uedem.
“As an Ally on NATO’s eastern flank, we are very aware of the importance of readiness, deterrence and defence. Here in Iceland and at home, we focus on cooperation and interoperability and we work together along common tactics, techniques and procedures and demonstrate cohesion,” said General Zakowski.
“Our duty here is to protect the airspace of our Ally Iceland. This is the same job we do at home and collectively with our NATO Allies. We will help other aircraft needing our support and – when needed – deter those who fly close to or threaten Icelandic airspace. With our unit certified under NATO Air Policing procedures in Iceland, we are now ready to perform 24/7,” said Lieutenant Colonel Micha? Kras, commander of the Polish Air Force F-16 detachment at Keflavik.
The CAOC Uedem certification team exposed the Polish F-16 fighters to strict drills confirming they have all the necessary procedures in place to respond to real-world situations and fly safely in the Icelandic airspace. Given its unique geographical location, Allies, in conjunction with the Icelandic authorities, have agreed that the appropriate response is to maintain a periodic presence of NATO fighter aircraft based at Keflavik Air Base to help keep Icelandic airspace safe and secure. The focus of the “peacetime preparedness mission” is to carry out routine flying training and exercises for the Alliance to meet Iceland’s requirements and needs to stay prepared, to monitor and to manage its airspace in peacetime.