Four Portuguese Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft based at Keflavik Air Base commenced NATO Air Policing in the North Atlantic from Sunday 5 February 2022. On Friday 4 February 2022, Portugal received their certification of being fully operationally capable to conduct the NATO Air Policing mission from a team of experts from the Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem (CAOC UE) in Germany. The Portuguese detachment, of more than 80 personnel, are now ready to safeguard the skies 24/7, even in the geographical challenging conditions in Iceland and the North Atlantic Region.
“Especially in the actual challenging weather conditions here in Iceland, we are very proud of having achieved the goal of being mission ready and to keep on with the long tradition of conducting a full-scale peacetime Air Policing”, said Major Paulo Silva, the detachment commander in Iceland.
This is the second time the Portuguese Air Force has deployed to conduct the Air Policing mission in Iceland – the last time being in 2012. One of the core peacetime missions is the ability to execute a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) scramble. The Portuguese F-16s will be working hard in the new environment, developing new skills and making important connections with Icelandic colleagues. The detachment will be constantly vigilant and ready to secure Icelandic airspace until their redeployment at the end of March.
Since 2006, Allies in conjunction with Icelandic authorities work together to maintain air surveillance and interception coverage over Icelandic skies. Eleven Allied nations have already showed their ability to operate in Iceland and this demonstrates the strong commitment to collective defence that is the cornerstone of the Alliance. NATO Air Policing is a peacetime mission, which aims to preserve the security of Alliance airspace. It is a collective task and involves the continuous presence – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – of fighter aircraft and crews, which are ready to react quickly to possible airspace violations.