August 7, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Norwegian F-16 fighter jets are headed to Iceland this week for a military exercise to practice defence of the island nation.
Norwegian F-16A in air-to-air configuration, armed with 4 AIM-9 Sidewinders and 2 AIM-120 Amraams, lining up to take on fuel from a USAF tanker. [USAF photo]
The military exercise, which also includes military personnel from Latvia, Denmark
and the USA, aims to practice the defence of the island nation, which has no army of its own.
After the USA shut its military base in Iceland, Norway
has had a special NATO
responsibility to defend the island's military interests, through an agreement signed this April. The upcoming exercise is the first concrete expression of Norway's responsibility.
The memorandum understanding with Iceland that was signed by Norway and Denmark, concerns surveillance, rescue and military operations the the North Atlantic. Norwegian special forces, naval and coast guard vessels and Norwegian fighter and reconnaissance planes will participate in visits, exercises and other defence activities in Iceland and in Icelandic airspace.
Iceland has an Air Defence System which was founded in 1987. It operates four radar complexes, a software and support facility as well as a command and report centre. As of this year, it does not independently possess any offensive capabilities, as Iceland's only air defence weaponry is operated by the Coast Guard, but is primarily used to monitor air traffic and direct allied interceptors based out of country.