The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) has deployed F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters from Ørland Main Air Station, Norway, to Keflavik Air Base in Iceland to provide a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) capability in support of NATO’s Icelandic Air Policing (IAP) mission.
This deployment – which began on January 15 and involves four F-35As from the RNoAF’s newly reactivated 331 Skvadron (Squadron) – marks the start of the first of three NATO fighter deployments to Iceland that are scheduled to take place in 2024. The Norwegian jets are expected to remain at Keflavik Air Base, carrying out Air Policing duties until mid-February, when they will return home to Ørland. In addition to the four 331 Skvadron jets, approximately 100 personnel from the unit, as well as from various departments within the RNoAF’s 131 and 132 Air Wings have also deployed to Iceland.
While this deployment marks the fourth time that Norway has dispatched its F-35As to participate in NATO’s IAP mission – the first of which was conducted in 2020 – this latest deployment marks a special milestone for the RNoAF as it serves as the first operational F-35A mission for 331 Skvadron, which was reactivated to fly the type on August 1, 2023. While deployed in Iceland, two of the four RNoAF F-35As will remain on 24/7 standby, ready to scramble to intercept unknown military and civilian aircraft in order to safeguard NATO and international airspace near Iceland.
Commenting on this milestone deployment, Lt Col Kenneth ‘Chain’ Vika – the officer commanding 331 Skvadron – said: “Our participation in [IAP] shows our willingness to support NATO and our increased ability to solve missions with combat aircraft both domestically and abroad.”