Fighter jets from NATO and partner countries began to conduct air defense-related flying activities over Iceland today in the first event of its kind to be held on the island.
Participants from NATO members Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands and the United States, and partner countries Finland and Sweden are attending the Iceland Air Meet 2014 (IAM2014) supported by NATO AWACS (Airborne Warning & Control System).
“This is a further step forward in NATO’s excellent cooperation with Finland and Sweden: the first time that we have flown together over Iceland,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a press statement.
Training activities include air combat training between dissimilar aircraft types, counter-air operations and high-value airborne asset attack and protection.
Rasmussen said that the training would allow participating pilots, ground crews and fighter controllers to gain more experience and be better able to deploy and operate together, if needed. Around 300 people are taking part in the training.
Head of the Icelandic Coast Guard Georg Lárusson told ruv.is that the training was important given the changes taking place in the Arctic and could prove useful in a variety of situations including natural disasters, military threat or search and rescue.
Norway, Finland and Sweden are sending fighter aircraft and support aircraft to the meet. The United States and the Netherlands are providing air-to-air refuelling assets, while Iceland is providing host nation support, including Search and Rescue capabilities.
NATO is coordinating the event through its combined air operations centre in Uedem, Germany.
According to the statement from NATO, IAM2014 takes advantage of Norway’s concurrent deployment to Iceland to conduct NATO’s mission to provide airborne surveillance and interception capabilities to meet Iceland’s peacetime preparedness needs. However, IAM2014 is separate and distinct from that mission, which is only ever conducted by NATO Allies.