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Military Capabilities

Italy deploys Typhoons for Icelandic air policing and training

20 March 2017
The view from the supporting KC-767 tanker of one of the eight Typhoon fighters that the AMI has deployed to Iceland. Source: AMI

The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI) has deployed six Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft to Iceland in support of NATO's air policing and training mission.

The aircraft from the 4th Fighter Wing in Grosseto in Tuscany flew to Keflavik Air Base in Iceland with support from a Boeing KC-767 tanker, arriving on 17 March.

Deployed under the auspices of NATO's 'Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland's Peacetime Preparedness Needs' mission, the AMI Typhoons will spend a week conducting familiarisation flights over Iceland under the control of the Iceland Coast Guard Control and Reporting Centre Loki at Keflavik. The following week will see them certified by NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany, to fly air policing missions in the country's airspace.

In all, the AMI will spend three weeks conducting the Icelandic mission, before returning to Italy in mid-April.

For the peacetime preparedness needs mission, alliance members undertake three- to four-week rotations within one of three four-month windows throughout the year. Nations typically contribute four aircraft per deployment, although this number is flexible.

The mission has previously been flown by Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. A planned deployment by the United Kingdom in 2008 was cancelled following its diplomatic spat with Iceland over the Nordic nation's banking crisis. Further to the NATO members, both Finland and Sweden have deployed fighter aircraft to Iceland for training purposes.

It used to be the case that all fighter aircraft deployed to Iceland flew unarmed and were not routinely tasked for Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duties, but this changed soon after 2014 and the breakdown in relations between the West and Russia over the actions of President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

In June 2016 the United States and Iceland signed a security agreement to facilitate future defence co-operation between the two nations.

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