Operation IGNITION is Canada’s periodic participation in the NATO – Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs mission. This is an operation conducted to monitor Iceland’s airspace and enforce security if required.
While it contributes to NATO regional security efforts and Canada’s bilateral relations with Iceland, Op IGNITION also contributes to the security of Canadian airspace by monitoring and controlling air traffic in the northeastern approaches to North America.
Task Force Iceland
When deployed, Task Force Iceland consists of about 160 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, including a detachment of up to six CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft and a support element located in the security zone at Keflavik International Airport, about 50 km from Reykjavik, Iceland.
Air surveillance and interception
Iceland is the only NATO nation that does not maintain its own standing armed forces. At the request of the Icelandic government, NATOallies periodically deploy fighter aircraft to Keflavik to provide air defence coverage. The mission intent is to provide periodic presence of NATO air defence assets in and around the Icelandic area and also ensure allies are familiar with the operating area and environment. The first deployment of the peacetime preparedness mission took place in May 2008.
The mission encompasses radar surveillance and identification of transiting aircraft. Fighter aircraft may be employed to assist in identification, and to escort aircraft if required. In times of crisis or conflict, Iceland will implement a plan in which the United States assumes responsibility for the island nation’s defence.
The CF-188 Hornets of Task Force Iceland provide an air surveillance and interception capability operating at the standard of NATO“
quick reaction alert” or QRA. When declared, this capability functions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The skills required for Op IGNITION were mastered through decades of NORAD operations in defence of Canada and North America, and three significant international combat missions.
Task Force Iceland 2013
The second rotation of Task Force Iceland arrived at Keflavik on 18 March 2013 and ceased operations on April 15, 2013. The fighter aircraft and the majority of the personnel deployed on Task Force Iceland 2013 came from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing, Bagotville, Quebec.
Task Force Iceland 2011
The initial rotation of Task Force Iceland arrived at Keflavik on 28 March 2011 and ceased operations on 30 April 2011. The aircraft and personnel came from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta.