The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare, AM) has deployed its Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning operationally for the first time.
Given its unique geographical location and lack of organic air defence capabilities, Iceland relies on its NATO allies for air policing. It therefore maintains a periodic presence of NATO fighter aircraft at Keflavik to help keepits airspace secure. The mission usually involves a deployment of fighters, typically for around three to four weeks, three times per year.
Since the end of September, the AM has been deployed to Keflavik with six F-35s the 32 Stormo from Amendola to conduct NATO’s peacetime Icelandic Air Policing mission. It marks the first time these aircraft have deployed for a mission under NATO command and control.
After an initial series of briefings and familiarisation flights, Operation Northern Lightning was declared mission ready in early October to provide quick reaction alert (QRA) for Iceland.
Col Spreafico, the detachment commander, told Key Aero: "We managed to reach this milestone two days in advance of the expected time line and that has been done thanks to a fantastic team work of all the Task Force personnel and thanks to the great support of the team from Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem and of our Icelandic hosts.