Czechs Deploy Gripens to Iceland for NATO Rotation

Four JAS-39 Gripen fighters and 70 personnel from the Czech Air Force have deployed to conduct air patrols above Iceland, NATO announced Aug. 7. The jets are a part of a NATO rotation to the Atlantic ally, which does not have its own national air force. Forces from NATO nations deploy for three to four weeks, three times per year. The jets are based at Keflavik and fly training missions to make sure NATO can provide full-scale air policing on short notice if necessary, the alliance said in a news release. This is the fourth time Czech jets have deployed to a NATO ally, with a deployment in 2014 to Iceland and 2009 and 2012 deployments to Baltic States. The Czech Gripens will conduct the mission through Aug. 29. The rotation was established in 2008 when US forces withdrew their permanent presence from the country. The US Air Force has deployed multiple times to support this mission, with the most recent deployment filled by F-15Cs from RAF Lakenheath, UK, along with a KC-135 from RAF Mildenhall, UK, which arrived in Iceland this past April.