CF-18s ready to patrol skies over Iceland

News Release

May 19, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

A detachment of Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighters are ready and will begin patrolling Iceland’s airspace as part of Operation REASSURANCE on May 22, 2017.

For approximately one month, Air Task Force (ATF)-Iceland, based out of Keflavik Air Base, will provide continuous air surveillance and interception capability which could be launched immediately to meet and identify unknown airborne objects within, or approaching NATO airspace. Air Task Force-Iceland comprises Canada’s periodic contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet Iceland's Peacetime Preparedness Needs (ASIC-IPPN).

The commitment of Canadian air assets and personnel as part of Operation REASSURANCE—  Canada’s contribution to NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures—demonstrates Canada’s ability and willingness to react rapidly to potential threats by working side by side with our NATO Allies. 


“Canada is a committed NATO ally and our commitment to the transatlantic bond is as strong as ever. Air Task Force-Iceland is part of the renewal of the mandate of Operation REASSURANCE announced by the Government of Canada in July 2016 at the NATO Warsaw Summit in Poland. Canada and Iceland continue to be close partners within NATO and this deployment is an example of the Canada’s continuing solidarity and collaboration with Allies to ensure safety and security in the Alliance’s airspace.”

—Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister

“The men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have world-class military skills and a global reputation as a professional and capable force. Air Task Force-Iceland is another example of the CAF having the necessary capabilities to make a meaningful contribution across the full spectrum of international operations.”

—Lieutenant-General Stephen Bowes, Commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command

Quick Facts

  • As part of the renewal of the Op REASSURANCE mandate announced by the Government of Canada in July 2016 at the NATO Warsaw Summit in Poland, the Canadian Armed Forces, under the Command of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), will deploy an Air Task Force to conduct Icelandic Air Surveillance.

  • Operation REASSURANCE refers to the military activities under taken by the CAF since 2014 to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures. Operation REASSURANCE is designed to reinforce the defence of NATO Allies in Central and Eastern Europe, reassure those Allies’ populations of NATO support.

  • The Air Task Force Commander, aircrews, maintainers, and some support staff are from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec. Air Task Force-Iceland will be under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel William “Billy” Mitchell, who is currently the Commanding Officer of 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville. The Air Task Force will operate six CF-18 aircraft.

  • Approximately 180 Canadian Armed Forces members of the Air Task Force-Iceland are deployed to Iceland for approximately one month. This contingent includes a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter detachment 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec and personnel support from 2 Wing Bagotville, Quebec. In addition, intercept controllers are from 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario.

  • The CF-18 Hornet, Canada’s multipurpose fighter jet, is ideally suited for this surveillance mission. Its pilots are trained to carry out air defence, air superiority, and tactical support missions.

  • Air Task Force-Iceland will conduct the same activities as were previously done under Operation IGNITION. The last Canadian Armed Forces deployment under Operation IGNITION occurred in 2013.

  • Canada and Iceland are close partners within NATO. As Iceland is the only NATO country with no standing military of its own, Canada is proud to participate in these cooperative defence activities in support of the NATO air surveillance mission. 

  • Following the mission to Iceland, Royal Canadian Air Force members from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, will take part in Operation REASSURANCE missions in Romania beginning in September.

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