5 May 2008
The arrival of 4 Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft from the French Air Force earlier today marks the commencement of NATO air policing in Iceland. A contingent of 110 Air Force personnel has accompanied the fighters in support of the mission. The French air policing mission will last through June 20th of this year.
NATO air policing in Iceland was decided by the Alliance’s North Atlantic Council in July of 2007 following a request by the Prime Minister of Iceland at the NATO Riga Summit in November 2006. No air policing missions have been carried out in Iceland following the departure of US military forces at the end of September 2006. Active air surveillance has however been carried out throughout this period by the Radar Agency.
The request by the Government of Iceland for NATO air policing was based on the Alliance’s policy that no member state should be without such protection, and member states without the air forces necessary to carry out such missions would be assisted by the air forces of other NATO member states. A total of 6 NATO states enjoy similar air policing assistance from other Allies. The Baltic States host a continuous presence of Allied air forces on a rotational basis for four months at a time. Air policing for Luxembourg is provided by Belgium and the Netherlands, and Italy provides air policing for Slovenia.
Iceland requested that air policing over Iceland not be continuous; such missions will be carried out an average 4 times per year, for 2 to 3 weeks at a time.
The next air policing mission in Iceland will be carried out by the United States in September 2008.