Aerial Warfare

US Air Force F-15E Fighter Jets Police NATO Skies in the High North

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US Air Force F-15E Fighter Jets Police NATO Skies in the High North

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US Air Force F-15E Fighter Jets Police NATO Skies in the High North
US Air Force F-15E Fighter Jets Police NATO Skies in the High North

On June 7, a team of specialists from NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany, declared four U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter jets from RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom mission-ready. They are conducting the Allied Air Policing mission over Iceland in close cooperation with the Icelandic Coast Guard flying out of NATO Keflavik Air Base. After arriving in Iceland in the beginning of June, the U.S. F-15E pilots conducted familiarisation flights above Iceland and began harmonising command and control relationships with the CAOC and the local NATO Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) Keflavik, “Loki”. This work laid the foundation for the certification of the U.S. detachment confirming the chain of command and the alerting procedures are in place to ensure NATO – via the CAOC and the CRC – can launch the F-15Es for Quick Reaction Alert -Intercept missions if needed. An inspection team conducted all foreseen alerting drills and procedures with the detachment and eventually declared mission-readiness for the NATO air mission in Iceland – called Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs (ASIC-IPPN).

“This is another successful certification of another Allied fighter detachment, and we are now, as from 2008, proud participants securing NATO Air Space and operations of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS). This mission is also important for training of our personnel and for continued testing of our operational systems,” said Jon Gudnason, Commander of NATO Keflavik Air Base.

The Chief of Staff of NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Admiral Joachim Rühle, German Navy (second from left) and representatives of the Icelandic Coast Guard received first-hand information about the U.S. Air Force contribution to the air mission in Iceland.
The Chief of Staff of NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Admiral Joachim Rühle, German Navy (second from left) and representatives of the Icelandic Coast Guard received first-hand information about the U.S. Air Force contribution to the air mission in Iceland. (Photo by U.S. Air Force F-15E detachment)

“We are proud to be back to Iceland showcasing NATO’s transatlantic link, our readiness and cooperation with our Icelandic Allies. Once a year the U.S. assumes responsibility for the Icelandic Air Policing underlining our commitment to the Alliance and regional security. We look forward to keeping the airspace safe in the High North with our excellent team and our powerful F-15E fighter jets,” said Captain Patrick “Whiskey” Allen, Commander of the U.S. F-15E detachment.

For more than sixteen years, since May 2008, NATO and 11 Allies have conducted this specific and unique Air Policing over Iceland. Allies, in conjunction with the Icelandic authorities, have agreed that the appropriate response to ensure protection of Iceland’s airspace is to maintain a periodic presence of NATO fighter aircraft based at NATO Keflavik Air Base. Following mission-readiness declaration, the Allied fighter detachment – deployed here for several weeks three times a year – execute the NATO mission in Icelandic airspace to ensure the Alliance can conduct full-scale peacetime Air Policing activities at the shortest possible notice if required by real world events. NATO conducts its enduring AP mission across all European Allies in compliance with international laws and standards. It is a clear expression of NATO’s mandate as a multinational collective security Alliance to protect its member Nation’s territorial integrity. Where member Nations do not have capability to defend and police NATO’s airspace over their territories, due to the lack of adequate fighter aircraft or intercept capacities, agreements exist to ensure a single standard of security with support from other NATO Nations. One form of this solidarity among Allies can be seen in Iceland.

Four U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter jets from RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom are conducting the Allied Air Policing mission over Iceland in close cooperation with the Icelandic Coast Guard flying out of NATO Keflavik Air Base.
Four U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter jets from RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom are conducting the Allied Air Policing mission over Iceland in close cooperation with the Icelandic Coast Guard flying out of NATO Keflavik Air Base. (Photo by Gunnar Flóvenz/AC NATO)

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