05/19/2014: U.S. Airmen began Icelandic Air Policing operations at Keflavik International Airport, Iceland, May 16, which will continue until June 5.
“We are excited to be back in Iceland again for Icelandic Air Policing,” said Lt. Col. Lendy Renegar, 48th Air Expeditionary Group commander.
“While our primary mission is to ensure the safety and integrity of Icelandic airspace, we are very excited to train with one of the best rescue organizations in the world,” he said. “The Icelandic Coast guard is incredibly capable and professional, and we are truly prepared to work with them both in training and real-world rescue opportunities.”
“The Icelandic Coast guard is incredibly capable and professional, and we are truly prepared to work with them both in training and real-world rescue opportunities.”
About 200 U.S. Airmen, F-15C Eagles from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, a KC-135 Stratotanker from RAF Mildenhall, and a C-130J Super Hercules from Ramstein Air Base will execute the mission. The U.S. Air Force began providing protection of Iceland’s airspace in 1951, when a treaty was signed establishing permanent basing there.
Though the U.S. has since withdrawn its permanent presence, NATO continues to provide air policing to meet Iceland’s peacetime readiness needs. The forward presence of Airmen in Europe puts U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa in a unique position to execute the United States’ agreement with NATO to conduct one U.S.-sponsored operation and participate in one NATO operation in Iceland each year. In addition to the air policing mission, the Airmen will train on rescue capabilities while in Iceland.
“We are confident our Guardian Angels bring great capabilities too and these two organizations working together should be fun to watch,” said Renegar. “We have C-130s, KC-135s, F-15s, Guardian Angels, a team of air battle managers and about 20 hours of daylight – we are excited to see what we can accomplish together on this mission.”
With the Arctic opening, it is clear that the Icelandic mission will grow in importance in the period ahead.