The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI) has deployed an undisclosed number of Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft to Keflavik Airbase to conduct NATO air policing and training duties over Iceland.
The deployment for NATO’s ‘Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs’ mission, which was announced by Allied Air Command on 18 March, began in mid-March and is set to run through to mid-April.
As noted by the command, this is the fourth such deployment for the AMI with previous rotations having taken place in 2013, 2017, and 2018. On those occasions the service deployed up to six Typhoons and a Boeing KC-767 tanker.
As is the norm for this particular mission, the AMI will have spent the first week conducting familiarisation flights over Iceland under the control of the Iceland Coast Guard Control and Reporting Centre Loki at Keflavik. The detachment is now certified by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, Germany, to fly air policing missions in the Iceland’s airspace.
With the mission barely started, NATO reported on 19 March that two AMI Typhoons had intercepted a pair of Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-142 ‘Bear-F’ long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft that were flying in international airspace close to Iceland.
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 US. A planned deployment by the UK in 2008 was cancelled following its diplomatic spat with Iceland over the Nordic nation’s banking crisis, although in 2018 it was announced that the Royal Air Force would indeed deploy later this year.
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