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The Iceland Air Meet 2014; Keflavik, February 12, 2014

Swedish and Finnish Participation at the IAM2014; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

For both the Swedish Air Force units and the Finnish Air Force units it is their first deployment ever on the Icelandic airbase of Keflavik. Practicing in this area offers crews a valuable opportunity to work together in an international context in the so-called Nordic Defense Corporation (NORDEFCO).

The Swedish detachment during the Iceland Air Meet is under the leadership of the Swedish representative LtCol Jorgen Marqvardssen. He is the wing commander of the F21 Norbottenwing Flygflottilj 2 Division which is stationed at Luleå/Kallax in the northern part of Sweden. It is for the Swedes their first deployment ever at Keflavik in Iceland. One of the main Swedish objectives during the Iceland Air Meet 2014 is the preparation of the 212 Squadron for international operations in 2014. This training is for the unit a valuable training. A second goal is to quickly install a deployment at long distances from Sweden. The logistics between Sweden and Iceland are a good workout for the Swedish transport units due to the long distance. A third main objective is to fly air defense missions and continue practicing air to air refueling skills in a tactical exercise. The so-called Nordic Increased cooperation is an important goal of the Swedish Air Force during this training. This exercise focuses on Combined Training (CBT) with the Norwegian and Finnish partners. This is important for all three countries, because the exercise takes for all participants place on unknown territory in an unfamiliar country. In their own country, the Swedes only have contact with the Norwegians and Finns via conference calls. During this training they also have time to train together which really provides a lot of new possibilities.

The Swedes take part in the training with seven Saab JAS-39 Gripens of which four of them will fly per mission wave. The pilots are changed halfway through the training with a new batch of pilots from Sweden on February 11. This new class will follow the same training as the group which was trained before. In this way, the Swedish Air Force is able to train as many pilots as possible in this international partnership in a very short period. Besides the Gripens also a KC-130 from Sweden takes part in the training; the aircraft is in Sweden designated as the Tp-84. The aircraft will participate

for the full period of three weeks. This aircraft will be used to refuel the aircraft of the northern coalition during the tactical air operations. The crew of the Hercules is exchanged for a new crew on the same date as the Gripen crews. The aircraft is normally a standard transport aircraft of the type C-130 (Tp-84) and can be converted to KC-130 for tanker missions. The Swedish aircraft are parked behind the large hangar complex on the east side of Keflavik Air Base. In addition to the aircraft, the Swedes also brought their own combat leaders. Normally they are only active in Sweden, but for this exercise it was a good moment to train also in a different environment and in another scenario. The combat leaders will work during the training together with the Icelandic combat leaders at Keflavik. In total there are about 100 people from Sweden involved in the training mission. In addition, they brought 12 containers of materials, four trucks and two trailers for the support of the mission. The additional support for Sweden is given by the Icelandic Coast Guard.

For the Finnish units it is the first time they participate with a small detachment for training in Iceland. The Finnish representative during the media day was Major Tuukka Elonheimo. He is the commander of the Finnish detachment at Keflavik. The parti- cipating unit of the Finnish Air Force is HävLLv 21 from the Finnish airbase Tampere Pirkkala. The Finnish detachment consists mainly of personnel of the Air Force, but there is also a NH90 unit of the Army present during the training. The Finnish Air Force has three main targets during this training. The first and most important Finnish goal is to join the training as part of the NORDEFCO (Nordic Defense Corporation), which represents the intimate cooperation between Norway, Sweden and Finland. An important aspect is training of pilots in protecting the airspace and to provide protection to units from the friendly countries. Strengthening their international employability is their second main objective during the training. Not only for the pilots, but especially for the ground crews which are not often deployed during these kinds of collaborations. This training opportunity is therefore crucial for the ground crews. Important items are Combined Operations and participating in exercises conducted by other countries. The third Finnish objective is deployment and re-deployment. This goal is to move quickly and effectively resulting they are always ready to be deployed where needed.

In addition to the training purposes, the Finnish Air Force will also extensively train some flying aspects. The main goal is to fly as much as possible during air defense missions to train the air defense skills in a foreign environment of the participating Finnish F-18 pilots. This training is an extension of the tasks which they train daily in their own country. A second major goal is to participate in an international partnership. Many aspects such as air to air refueling, flying in formations and international air to air battles are extensively trained by the Northern partners. Iceland is a very suitable area for such operations, because it is a different environment for the pilots from Finland which needs another approach. In total there are 57 people from Finland involved in the training. Crews will be exchanged for a new team from Finland on February 11 and 12. The Finnish Air Force is therefore able to train 130 air force men during the training. The reason for the rotation is to train as many people as possible, because Finland is not a NATO country. Less international training possibilities are available for this country which makes this training important. The Finns are using five F-18MLU2 Hornets and two NH90 SAR helicopters at Keflavik for the training. One of the NH90s participates in the training and is flying various training missions. The other NH90 is in standby mode during flight operations for SAR duties. These additional helicopters are needed because the Icelandic Coast Guard does not always have enough capacity to support the training missions due to their daily operational tasks.

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