Three fighter jets landed at Iceland’s Keflavik airport and NATO military base yesterday evening and three more are expected later today. The air cover for Iceland had to be swiftly re-arranged because the Canadian Forces Air Command decided to send the team originally earmarked for Iceland on a mission to Libya.
Canada has just taken over responsibility for Icelandic airspace under the NATO arrangement which sees allied nations take turns to patrol the air above Iceland. Air forces often also take the opportunity to use Iceland for exercises, as the NATO member country has the relevant equipment and ground crews despite not having a military of its own.
Before the three F-18 fighters arrived yesterday, Canada had already sent personnel, tools and equipment to Iceland. Later today one more F-18 will arrive, along with a P-3 aircraft used for aerial re-fuelling.
Some 150 personnel accompany the planes and will be staying at the Keflavik base over the coming weeks. As well as patrolling, the Canadians also plan to conduct exercises and landing practice at Keflavik, Akureyri and Egilsstadir.
The Icelandic Coastguard recently took over from the Icelandic Defence Agency, which held ultimate responsibility for Icelandic airspace, RUV reports.
The coastguard reports that the current Canadian mission had to be swiftly reorganised when it came to light the originally scheduled aircraft and crew would be sent on the NATO no-fly zone enforcement mission to Libya.
(Photos of German aircraft used for illustration purposes only: not directly related to the story)