After an initial acclimatization period, but with 2 well in advance of what was planned, the Task Force Air 32nd Wing has reached the complete operational capacity, the so-called Full Operational Capability (FOC), of the mission, thus obtaining from NATO the certification useful to guarantee the safety of the skies in Iceland in the context of the operations of Air Policing.
Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm May, head of the NATO appraisal team from the CAED of Uedem, handed over the FOC certification to the commander of the Task Force Air, Colonel Stefano Spreafico, thus officially initiating the "Northern Lightning" operation.
"I am very proud of the result achieved." - reported the commander of the TFA - "We were able to reach this important milestone two days in advance of the planned timetable and this was possible thanks to the fantastic teamwork of all the Task Force personnel and thanks to the great support of the UEDEM CAOC team and our Icelandic guests ".
The important milestone reached was formalized by a ceremony that ended with a solemn flag-raising ceremony, where the NATO flag was hoisted, handed over to the TFA commander, by the deputy commander of the Allied Air Command (AIRCOM), the lieutenant general Pascal Delerce.
"For the first time a fifth-generation fighter, the F-35, will be used by NATO to safeguard the Alliance's airspace in an Air Policing operation - the deputy commander of AIRCOM in his speech - It represents a major step towards the integration of modern combat aircraft into allied missions, demonstrating the Alliance's ability to look to the future, integrating new technologies ".
To seal the important event, which saw Italy be the first Alliance country to employ a F-35 asset in a NATO operation, Enzo Vecciarelli, the Chief of Defense General Staff, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, general of aerial team Alberto Rosso.
"Today, with the achievement of Full Operational Capability by the Task Force Air 32nd Wing - the words of General Vecciarelli - we renew our commitment to actively contribute to collective defense. We have decided to contribute to the activities of Air Policing with our most advanced resources. In the coming weeks, the F-35 A of the Mlitare Air Force, for the first time under the command and control of the Allied Air Command, will guarantee the safety of the Icelandic airspace and of the Alliance, in an important strategic portion of the Euro-Atlantic region ".
The mission of the TFA 32nd Wing aims to preserve the integrity of NATO's airspace, strengthening the surveillance activity of the skies over Iceland which does not have capacity and structures for autonomous air defense.