Aerial Warfare

Royal Norwegian Air Force Begins 2024 with F-35A Deployment to Iceland

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Royal Norwegian Air Force Begins 2024 with F-35A Deployment to Iceland

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Royal Norwegian Air Force Begins 2024 with F-35A Deployment to Iceland
Royal Norwegian Air Force Begins 2024 with F-35A Deployment to Iceland

Norway is deploying four of is F-35 fighter jets to Iceland providing an interceptor capability for NATO’s air surveillance mission in Iceland. As of January 15, four F-35 fighter aircraft are scheduled to fly NATO Air Policing sorties out of Keflavík Air Base, Iceland, until mid-February. This is the fourth time Norway deploys their fifth-generation jets to this mission. The Norwegian detachment conducts the first of three Allied fighter deployments to Iceland scheduled in 2024. Two Norwegian F-35s at Keflavík will be on stand-by 24/7 ready to scramble to safeguard NATO and international airspace near Iceland. Sorties will include training and alert scrambles e.g. to identify unknown aircraft as a legitimate response to maintain territorial integrity of the NAOT Ally in the High North.

The first Allied fighter deployment to Iceland in 2024 is the fourth time Norway sends their F-35s to support the NATO mission here. Archive photo by Torbjorn Kjosvold.
The first Allied fighter deployment to Iceland in 2024 is the fourth time Norway sends their F-35s to support the NATO mission here. (Photo by Torbjorn Kjosvold/NATO HQ Allied Air Command)

In 2008, the government of Norway selected the F-35 Lightning II as the replacement for their F-16 fleet. In 2012, Norway increased their program of record quantity by four aircraft and at the same time, accelerated deliveries to begin training pilots and maintainers two years earlier. On 6 November 2019 Norway declared initial operational capability (IOC) for its fleet of 15 F-35As out of a planned 52 F-35As. On 6 January 2022 Norway’s F-35As replaced its F-16s for the NATO quick reaction alert mission in the high north. On 22 September 2023, two F-35As from the Royal Norwegian Air Force landed on a motorway near Tervo, Finland, showing, for the first time, that F-35As can operate from paved roads. Unlike the F-35B they cannot land vertically. The fighters were also refueled with their engines running.

The Norwegian detachment also includes their own Force Protection component that will secure the F-35s Keflavík Air Base, Iceland. Archive photo by Ole Andres Vekve.
The Norwegian detachment also includes their own Force Protection component that will secure the F-35s Keflavík Air Base, Iceland. (Photo by Olea Andreas Vekve/NATO HQ Allied Air Command)

NATO Air Policing is a peacetime mission that aims to preserve the security of Alliance airspace. Under NATO Air Policing arrangements, which are overseen by Allied Air Command at Ramstein, Germany, all Allies collectively contribute to the mission across the airspace in Europe. At home, the Royal Norwegian Air Force keeps a watchful eye on own and adjacent airspace. Their F-35s carry out this mission for NATO from Evenes Air Base, some 1400 kms north of Oslo, where they are ready to scramble 24/7/365. Since 2008, NATO Allies have continuously deployed fighter aircraft to Iceland on a rotational basis to provide and train interceptors ensuring safety and security of the Icelandic airspace integrating the Ally in the High North into NATO Air Policing.

Royal Norwegian Air Force Begins 2024 with F-35A Deployment to Iceland
Norwegian detachment conducts the first of three Allied fighter deployments to Iceland scheduled in 2024. (Photo by Olea Andreas Vekve/NATO HQ Allied Air Command)

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