"Participation has a high symbolic effect, both for Norway and the rest of NATO," says colonel Ståle Nymoen.
Norway is now ready to solve missions both in Norway and abroad with the new fighter aircraft, the F-35, the Norwegian Armed Forces says in a press release.
In March, Norway will solve missions in the international operation Iceland Air Policing (IAP) with F-35. This is the first foreign mission to the 332 Squadron after the F-35 was declared initially operational in November.
NATO country Iceland does not have its own defense and thus no capacity to meet the country's need for sovereignty and airspace surveillance. NATO therefore rolls with periodic air defense presence in peacetime.
"The fact that the F-35 can show operational capability in such an operation is an important milestone towards full operational capability in 2025," says Chief of the Air Force, Major General Tonje Skinnarland.
The tasks are similar to those carried out by the Norwegian F-16 from Bodø (QRA), call-out to identify unknown aircraft. Norway, on behalf of NATO, will be responsible for this for a period of 3 weeks. The detachment consists of 130 soldiers, commanders, officers and civilians.
High symbolic effect
Colonel Ståle "Steel" Nymoen, commander of the 332 Squadron, has been appointed as head of the Norwegian contribution, called Detachment Commander.
"The fact that Norway fulfills the mission of Iceland Air Policing shows that we are a reliable, high quality allied partner. Participation has a high symbolic effect, both for Norway and the rest of NATO," says Nymoen.
He adds that the personnel are now in the preparation phase at the Orland fighter jet base before departure.
"The F-35 is now in daily use in Norway, and we have come so far with the phasing in that we can now also solve missions for NATO. Thus, one of the milestones in phasing in the F-35 has been reached," he adds.
Lots of experience
The QRA mission engages Norway on a daily basis. At one time there are two F-16 on 15 minutes of standby time in Bodø. The air defense is therefore well acquainted with the mission. In addition, the Air Force has performed Air Policing missions in the past, both in Lithuania and several times in Iceland. Both of these missions have been solved with the F-16.
Now it is the F-35 that will take over the baton. For the Armed Forces, the F-35 is an important part of the total defense, which will protect Norway and assert both our and NATO's borders in the north.
"The F-35 has proven to be a very good tool and works better than expected," concludes colonel Nymoen.