On 11 April the Italian Air Force Eurofighter detachment redeployed to their Italian home bases after successfully accomplishing their four-week mission providing Allied interceptors to safeguard the Icelandic airspace.
After their arrival in Iceland for the NATO mission on 11 March, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany, certified the detachment as fully operational to conduct NATO Air Policing in the Icelandic and adjacent international airspace. “Being here in Keflavìk in order to safeguard Icelandic skies, we had the opportunity to show how important it is for NATO to protect their airspace across all Allies in Europe already in peacetime. During our mission we successfully conducted two intercepts in the assigned area and flew many training missions with the Icelandic Coast Guard and with NATO Allies’ assets and forces.”
On 18 and 28 March the Italian Eurofighters were launched by the CAOC to intercept Russian Federation Air Force Tu-142 aircraft showcasing Allied cooperation and functioning under NATO’s Air Policing arrangements. On 26 March, the detachment’s force protection team conducted an interoperability exercise with the Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter during fast-roping training. On the same day, the helicopter simulated the slow-moving target for Italian Eurofighter pilots in a training intercept scenario.
In early April the detachment worked with Her Danish Majesty’s Ship “HVIDBJØRNEN”, a THETIS-class Arctic Patrol Frigate and the on-board MH-60R SEA HAWK helicopters. The training included another slow-mover intercept scenario which represents a challenge for fast jet pilots when it comes to identifying and escorting the helicopters.
“As a commander, I couldn’t be prouder of the objectives that my detachment achieved here in Icleand,” added Colonel Porelli. “Successful execution of our NATO task has been the result of constant teamwork, commitment and professionalism. Everybody was essential in getting the mission accomplished.”
“Since 2013 Italy has assigned forces to NATO’s mission ‘Air Surveillance and Interception Capability to meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs’,” said the Commander of Keflavik Air Base, Jón B. Guðnason. “Italy’s participation in the mission occurred annually since 2017 and will continue to be so for future years. With its contribution to NATO, Italy has demonstrated its capability, outstanding performance, and highly qualified and trained personnel. We are looking forward to welcoming their detachment again here in 2020.”
The peacetime NATO operation in Iceland has been conducted since 2008. The Italian detachment was the first one in 2019. Two more Allies will deploy their fighter aircraft to ensure Iceland is prepared and integrated in peacetime NATO’s Air Policing arrangements.
Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs based on information provided by the Italian Air Force detachment