Operation IGNITION is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) role in a NATO security mission for Iceland. This mission is called Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland's Peacetime Preparedness Needs. NATO monitors Iceland’s airspace during this mission. NATO will also enforce security if needed.
The CAF takes part on a periodic basis. By doing so, Canada assists NATO regional security efforts. This operation also helps Canada’s relations with Iceland. Further, Canadian airspace is more secure when the CAF monitors and controls air traffic coming to North America from the northeast.
There are currently no CAF assets or members on Operation IGNITION.
Task Force Iceland
About 160 CAF members serve on Task Force Iceland when it is active. The task force includes a CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft detachment. Up to six aircraft may be sent. The task force also includes an aircraft support team. The task force is located in the security zone at Keflavik International Airport. This is about 50 km from Reykjavik, Iceland.
Air surveillance and interception
Iceland is the only NATO nation that does not have its own standing armed forces. NATO allies periodically send fighter aircraft to Keflavik for air defence coverage. NATO provides this support at the request of the Icelandic government. NATO’s intent is that defence aircraft will provide a periodic presence in and around Iceland. The mission also helps NATO allies stay familiar with the operating area and environment. The first mission for this role (peacetime preparedness) took place in May 2008.
The mission involves radar tracking and identifying aircraft that are flying over and near Iceland. Fighter aircraft may be sent up to help with identification. They will also escort transiting aircraft if needed. Iceland also has a crisis or conflict plan. The United States is responsible for the defence of Iceland in the case of a crisis or conflict.
The CAF CF-188 Hornets of Task Force Iceland are capable of air surveillance and intercepting other aircraft. They operate at the NATO “quick reaction alert” or QRA standard. When declared, this is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week capability.
The CAF task force has mastered the skills needed for Op IGNITION. They gained these skills through decades of NORAD operations in defence of Canada and North America. Further, CAF fighter aircraft and crews have also served on major combat missions in other countries.
Task Force Iceland 2013
The second Task Force Iceland group arrived at Keflavik on March 18, 2013. They ceased operations on April 15, 2013. The fighter aircraft and the majority of crew members on Task Force Iceland 2013 came from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron. This squadron is based at 3 Wing, Bagotville, Quebec.
Task Force Iceland 2011
The first Task Force Iceland group arrived at Keflavik on March 28, 2011. They ceased operations on April 30, 2011. The aircraft and crews came from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron. This squadron is based at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta.
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