The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) deployed six Eurofighter EF-2000s and 30 personnel from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 73 (TaktLwG 73; Tactical Air Force Wing 73) ‘Steinhoff’ to Iceland as part of Exercise Rapid Viking 2023 in August.
The six fighters – comprising five single-seat EF-2000s (30+50; 30+51; 30+73; 30+79 and 31+21) and one dual-seat EF-2000T (31+24) – arrived at the Reykjanesbær Security Area, the military enclave of Keflavik International Airport, on July 28, with the exercise taking place from August 1-10. The detachment from Rostock-Laage was supported by two Luftwaffe-operated A400M Atlas tactical transports.
During the exercise, the Eurofighters flew up to eight training sorties each day, practicing operations in the High North and conducting joint training exercises with the NATO Control and Reporting Centre to ensure integration with NATO’s Icelandic Air Policing (IAP) mission. The deployment demonstrated Germany’s readiness and ability to swiftly deploy airpower to any location.
Lt Col Marco Brunhofer, commander of the German EF-2000 detachment to Iceland, said: “The changed global security situation has had impacts on the High North, and against this background, the [Luftwaffe] makes a valuable contribution to Icelandic security and sovereignty and alliance deterrence and defence. Air forces are first responders and need to be able to swiftly and efficiently project airpower. With the deployment under Rapid Viking, we generate a maximum operational footprint with minimum personnel and material resources.”
Rapid Viking 2023 was conducted in cooperation with the Icelandic Coast Guard and Iceland’s national airport and air navigation service provider, Isavia, under the authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Iceland has no armed forces of its own, but a number of nations have undertaken Air Policing missions in the country within the last year. Italy and Norway deployed F-35As to support NATO’s IAP mission, while Denmark deployed one of its F-16AM/BM (MLU) squadrons to support another NATO IAP detachment. The Luftwaffe last deployed to Iceland for NATO’s peacetime IAP mission in early 2012.