From August 17, the F-16AMs have been conducting regional air policing on behalf of NATO’s Northern Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Uedem, Germany. The F-16s will perform these missions in cooperation with the Icelandic Coast Guard until mid-September this year.
This is the third deployment to Iceland by NATO partners in 2022, which started when F-16AMs from the Portuguese Air Force's Esquadra 201 and 301 (201/301 Squadron) were deployed to the region from February to March. Denmark took over responsibility for the ongoing mission from the Italian Air Force, which deployed four F-35A and two F-35B Lightning IIs from 32° Stormo (32nd Wing). The Italians were deployed in Iceland from April to early July.
This deployment to NATO’s ‘high north’ is the fifth for Denmark. The first being in March 2009 for three weeks, then returning a year later in March 2010. It took five years for Denmark to return to Keflavik in August 2015 and then once again in April 2018. Each deployment has been performed by the RDAF's two fighter units - Eskadrille 727 and 730 - with four F-16AMs
Iceland is an area of interest for NATO due to its geographical location. It is seen as a must to keep its airspace safe and secure. Without its own dedicated air force this requires NATO partners and its fighter assets to deploy and perform routine training missions as well as being on guard 24/7 to react to any adversary activities surrounding the country.