NATO continues to protect the airspace above Iceland as Royal Danish Air Force F-16 fighters deploy to Keflavik Air Base to prepare and conduct Air Policing missions with the Icelandic Coast Guard. Beginning August 17, Danish F-16s will be flying Air Policing sorties form Keflavik Air Base controlled by the NATO Control and Reporting Centre at Keflavik and NATO’s northern Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany. This fifth deployment of Denmark fighter aircraft underscores the continuity and sustainability of the Allied mission in Iceland.
“For the third time in 2022, the CAOC team has conducted the certification of NATO fighters to conduct Air Policing in the High North above Iceland. The Royal Danish Air Force F-16 detachment have demonstrated again that they master the tactics, techniques and procedures to safeguard the skies. They are now on standby until mid-September and work with the strategically important NATO Ally. Firmly tied into the enduring and proven integrated air and missile defence architecture, the Royal Danish Air Force together with the Icelandic Coast Guard showcase deterrence and defence of the Alliance,” said Colonel Wilhelm May, German Air Force, lead of the CAOC certification team.
While deployed, the Allied jets are kept ready and can be launched for Air Policing sorties by the CAOC. Given its geographical location, Allies, in conjunction with the Icelandic authorities, have agreed that the appropriate arrangement to help keep Icelandic airspace safe and secure is to maintain a periodic presence of NATO fighter aircraft based at NATO’s Keflavik Air Base. The focus of the peacetime 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.
The Royal Danish Air Force bought a total of 77 F-16A/B aircraft in 2 major batches and 2 attrition replacement orders. Of these, 48 aircraft and 14 spares, all upgraded to MLU standard, will remain operational until 2020-2025 when they will be replaced by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The primary air-intercept weapon carried by RDAF F-16A/B’s is the AIM-9L Sidewinder. With the modernization of the Danish F-16s to MLU standards, also other weapon systems were introduced on the fleet. Besides the purchase of some LANTIRN pods, also LGB weapons were acquired consisting in GBU-12 and GBU-24 weapons. Denmark was the first of the four EPAF countries to purchase the GBU-31 JDAM for its F-16 fleet.