A detachment of Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighters are currently patrolling Iceland’s airspace after approximately 180 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members of the Air Task Force-Iceland were deployed to the region as part of Operation REASSURANCE.
“Canada is a committed NATO ally, and our commitment to the transatlantic bond is as strong as ever. 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,” said Harjit Sajjan, Defence Minister.
For approximately one month, Air Task Force (ATF)-Iceland 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.
Based out of Keflavik Air Base, ATF-Iceland’s contingent is comprised of a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter detachment and personnel. ATF-Iceland is under the command of LCol. William “Billy” Mitchell, who is currently the Commanding Officer of 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville.
The ATF’s commander, aircrews, maintainers and some support staff are from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec. Support elements are primarily from 2 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, as well as intercept controllers from 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario.
“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. 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,” said LGen. Stephen Bowes, Commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command.
ATF-Iceland will operate six CF-18 aircraft.
The task force comprises of 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).
Following this deployment to Iceland, under Operation REASSURANCE, RCAF members from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, will take part in missions in Romania beginning in September.