Iceland Air Meet 2014

Iceland Air Meet 2014

Text and photos; Stefan Goossens
Published; April 2014

Iceland Air Meet 2014

In February 2014 the military facilities at Keflavik airport in Iceland were being used by the military of four Nordic Countries; Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

The countries participated in the Iceland Air Meet 2014 (IAM2014). IAM2014 was aimed at developing defence cooperation between NATO and Finland and Sweden.

It was the first time such a training event was organised and the first time that Finland and Sweden have deployed to Iceland. Norway acted as the sponsor nation for Finland and Sweden. The Finnish and Swedish assets were placed under Norwegian operational control.

Training

The Iceland Air Meet 2014 effectively took place from 3 February to 21 February 2014. In these three weeks the participants took to the air three times a day. The air meet had four aims; maximise the value of training possibilities, increase NATO interoperability, train by AFS standards and further develop Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO).

Specifically called a training event several training objectives had been defined; deployment, employment and re-deployment, defensive and offensive counter air, composite air operations, air-to-air refuelling, Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and Search and Rescue (SAR) operations.

It was largest defence training exercise Iceland has ever hosted, with 300 people in attendance and over 20 foreign aircraft.

Participants

Besides the countries operating in Iceland (Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) other NATO countries involved in the exercise were the United States of America and the Netherlands. Both countries provided air-to-air refuelling capacity. NATO itself took part by employing an E-3 AWACS operating from Norway.

The Super Pumas of the Icelandic Coast Guard took part from their home base at Reykjavik Airport.

The following assets were available for the training:

IcelandIcelandic Coast Guard2 xAS532
NorwayRoyal Norwegian Air Force6 xF-16
SwedenSwedish Air Force7 xJAS-39
1 xC-130
FinlandFinnish Air Force5 xF/A-18
2 xNH-90
USAUnited States Air Force1 xKC-135
NetherlandsRoyal Netherlands Air Force1 xKDC-10
NATONATO1 xE-3

Execution

NATO coordinated IAM from its combined air operations centre in Uedem, Germany. Norway provided the training director. The Norwegian Air Force also took on the NATO peacetime-preparedness mission on 27 January 2014 by sending six F-16s to Iceland for QRA-duties. Though that mission and the training were making use of the same F-16, these were two unrelated activities.

With only limited ground support equipment and staff being available in Iceland, the deployment and re-deployment of the aircraft and staff provided training opportunities in itself. The Finnish NH-90s for instance were brought in on a boat.

For Iceland, and the Icelandic Coast Guard, the training provided a number of challenges. With a limited budget, minimum staffing and resources, the ICG was asked to be host nation, maximising the use of all equipment and resources.

During the three weeks of the actual training the participants flew three waves per day. With only a limited number of daylight hours the last launch was flown in the dark.

Though enthusiastic about the outcome of the training no plans have been announced for possible future editions.