CF-188s ready to patrol skies over Iceland

A detachment of Canadian CF-188 Hornet fighters began patrolling Iceland’s airspace as part of Operation Reassurance on May 22, 2017.

Air Task Force-Iceland will conduct the same activities as were previously done under Operation Ignition. Here, CF-18 jets fly over Iceland on April 10, 2013, during Operation Ignition. DND Photo
Air Task Force-Iceland will conduct the same activities as were previously done under Operation Ignition. Here, CF-18 jets fly over Iceland on April 10, 2013, during Operation Ignition. DND Photo
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For approximately one month, Air Task Force (ATF)-Iceland, based out of Keflavik Air Base, will provide continuous air surveillance and interception capability, which could be launched immediately to meet and identify unknown airborne objects within, or approaching NATO airspace. Air Task Force-Iceland comprises Canada’s periodic contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs (ASIC-IPPN).

The commitment of Canadian air assets and personnel as part of Operation Reassurance–Canada’s contribution to NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures–demonstrates Canada’s ability and willingness to react rapidly to potential threats by working side by side with our NATO Allies.

“Canada is a committed NATO ally and our commitment to the transatlantic bond is as strong as ever,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister. “Air Task Force-Iceland is part of the renewal of the mandate of Operation Reassurance announced by the Government of Canada in July 2016 at the NATO Warsaw Summit in Poland. Canada and Iceland continue to be close partners within NATO and this deployment is an example of the Canada’s continuing solidarity and collaboration with Allies to ensure safety and security in the Alliance’s airspace.”

“The men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have world-class military skills and a global reputation as a professional and capable force,” said LGen Stephen Bowes, Commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command. “Air Task Force-Iceland is another example of the CAF having the necessary capabilities to make a meaningful contribution across the full spectrum of international operations.”

Quick facts:

  • As part of the renewal of the Op Reassurance mandate announced by the Government of Canada in July 2016 at the NATO Warsaw Summit in Poland, the Canadian Armed Forces, under the Command of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), will deploy an Air Task Force to conduct Icelandic Air Surveillance;
  • Operation Reassurance refers to the military activities under taken by the CAF since 2014 to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures. Operation Reassurance is designed to reinforce the defence of NATO Allies in Central and Eastern Europe, reassure those Allies’ populations of NATO support;
  • The Air Task Force Commander, aircrews, maintainers, and some support staff are from 3 Wing Bagotville, Que. Air Task Force-Iceland will be under the command of LCol William “Billy” Mitchell, who is currently the Commanding Officer of 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville. The Air Task Force will operate six CF-188 aircraft;
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  • Approximately 180 Canadian Armed Forces members of the Air Task Force-Iceland are deployed to Iceland for approximately one month. This contingent includes a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter detachment and personnel in support of Air Task Force Iceland. Support elements are primarily from 2 Wing Bagotville, Que., as well as intercept controllers from 22 Wing North Bay, Ont.;
  • The CF-188 Hornet, Canada’s multipurpose fighter jet, is ideally suited for this surveillance mission. Its pilots are trained to carry out air defence, air superiority, and tactical support missions;
  • Air Task Force-Iceland will conduct the same activities as were previously done under Operation Ignition. The last Canadian Armed Forces deployment under Operation Ignition occurred in 2013;
  • Canada and Iceland are close partners within NATO. As Iceland is the only NATO country with no standing military of its own, Canada is proud to participate in these cooperative defence activities in support of the NATO air surveillance mission; and
  • Following the mission to Iceland, Royal Canadian Air Force members from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., will take part in Operation Reassurance missions in Romania beginning in September.

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