Poland will lead NATO’s Iceland Peacetime Preparedness Needs (IPPN) mission for the first time. For three weeks in September 2021, it will be tasked with protecting the airspace of the island country.
To do so, the Polish Air Force will operate four F-16 fighter jets of the 32 Tactical Air Force Base from Łask, central Poland. The fighters, along with 140 military personnel, were deployed on August 18, 2021, in Keflavik Air Base, located on the southwestern Icelandic coast. An Airbus C-295 transport aircraft will act as a liaison.
Polish Military Contingent departs for Keflavik Air Base.— PLinNATO (@PLinNATO) August 18, 2021
4 F-16 fighter jets & 140 military personnel will be deployed to protect skies over Iceland as part of #NATO Air Policing mission. #WeAreNATO #airpolicing pic.twitter.com/2Pr8vIIJFc
The Polish Air Force taking over the whole Icelandic mission by itself is a testimony to its ramping-up capability. Until recently, the country was also relying on the airspace protection of its NATO allies.
Iceland does not have any air defense element. In fact, except for its coastguard and a small Icelandic Peacekeeping Guard, the country has no standing army. As such, Iceland, a founding member of NATO, relies on foreign air forces to defend its airspace.
Unlike the Baltic Air Policing mission, the foreign presence is not continuous. Fellow NATO members only deploy their fighters several times a year for a couple of weeks.