Canada deploys ‘mostly’ unarmed jets to NATO air policing mission over Iceland

Canada is deploying six CF-18 Hornet jet fighters and 160 personnel for Operation Ignition in Iceland

From Canada’s Department of National Defense:  A Royal Canadian Air Force detachment of six CF-18 Hornet jet fighters will patrol Iceland’s airspace from Keflavik Air Base during Operation Ignition in March and April of this year. Operation Ignition is Canada’s periodic contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness mission.

“As a leading member of NATO and a close partner with Iceland, Canada is committed to doing its part to help protect the integrity of NATO’s airspace,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “Canada’s fleet of fighter aircraft and our personnel are ideally suited for this operation, which also contributes to the security of Canada by helping to monitor and control the northeast air approaches to North America.”

Participation in Operation Ignition is one aspect of Canada’s continuing commitment to international peace and security and shows the importance of Canada’s fighter fleet in today’s complex security environment. The NATO – Iceland Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs mission is an operation conducted to patrol Iceland’s airspace. The first deployment of NATO aircraft took place in May 2008, with Canada’s initial participation in the spring of 2011. This deployment will be the second time the Royal Canadian Air Force has participated in Operation Ignition.

“Operation Ignition is one of several meaningful and important ways that we demonstrate our long-standing commitment to NATO, and I firmly believe the Royal Canadian Air Force is very well positioned to carry out the tasks associated with this mission,” said General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff. “The men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces are held in high regard around the world, and I know that through Operation Ignition we will continue to build on our already outstanding relationships with our NATO allies and partners.”

The fighter aircraft and personnel, including the Task Force Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Darcy Molstad, come from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing, Bagotville, Quebec. Known as Task Force Iceland, the contingent of approximately 160 Canadian Armed Forces personnel will provide 24-7 air surveillance and interception capability that could be launched immediately to intercept and identify unknown airborne objects within or approaching NATO airspace.

From Tristin Hopper, National Post:  True to the operation’s official name as a “peacetime preparedness mission,” the jets will mostly be unarmed.

“Basically, it’s a presence patrol; they’re providing surveillance and interception capabilities,” said Captain Cynthia Kent, spokeswoman for Canadian Joint Operations Command.  (photo: Private Pierre Theriault/Canada’s Department of National Defense)  (via Eitvydas Bajarunas)

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