Iceland Northern Lightning ItAF F-35A
Copyright: Italian Air Force Press Office

Italy first to deploy F-35 fighter aircraft to NATO mission in Iceland

For the first time modern 5th generation fighter aircraft will execute NATO’s peacetime Air Policing mission safeguarding Icelandic airspace for three weeks in October. Italy will be the first Ally to deploy six of their F-35 fighter aircraft to Keflavik Air Base. For Italy it is the fifth time – and the second time in 2019 – to support this NATO mission that showcases Allied solidarity, readiness and cooperation.

After achieving initial operation capability at home in November 2018, the Italian Air Force is now pioneering the utilisation of their modern aircraft for the NATO Air Policing mission. Fully integrated in the community of NATO Allies employing or acquiring modern fighter aircraft the Italian Air Force has proven its capability of exploiting the platform’s multi-role versatility and performance.

Allied Air Command headquartered at Ramstein, Germany, has a double role in this deployment: it is responsible for the overall coordination of the peacetime Air Policing mission and oversees modern aircraft integration with existing aircraft fleets and NATO air command and control arrangements.

The Italian F-35 aircraft are normally based at Amendola Air Base. The Italian Air Force detachment is scheduled to work with the controllers at the Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, Germany and the Control and Reporting Centre at Keflavik, Iceland. After conducting familiarisation flights and achieving certification for the mission the Italian detachment will protect the airspace over the Ally in the High North until the end of October.

Since its inception in early 2008 the focus of the “peacetime preparedness mission” has been 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. During their deployment Allied fighter detachments are integrated into NATO’s Air Policing architecture.

The Italian Air Force participates with continuity in the Interim Air Policing in Albania starting from 2009, in Slovenia since 2004, in Montenegro from 2018, while it is already engaged in Iceland four times starting from 2013.

Photo credits: Italian Ministry of Defence, Italian Air Force Press Office