An ongoing political spat between the British and Icelandic governments has put paid to the planned first overseas deployment of the Royal Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoon for NATO.
"The deployment of four Typhoons was scheduled to take place in December. Following discussions within NATO, the deployment will not now take place," minister for international defence and security Baroness Taylor said on 24 November.
Typhoons from the RAF's Coningsby-based 3 Sqn had been scheduled to provide quick reaction alert services from Keflavik airport for a period of several weeks, but the decision was reversed "following discussions with NATO, and in agreement with Iceland", the service says. The move follows a recent worsening of bilateral relations that developed when UK financial assets worth several billion pounds were lost during the collapse of Iceland's banking system.
© Geoffrey Lee/Eurofighter
NATO has been responsible for providing air policing cover from Keflavik since the end of 2007, when the US Air Force ended a long-standing deployment at the base. The UK's planned commitment will now be delivered by another alliance member, and the Typhoon's inaugural overseas mission is expected to come when the type assumes air policing responsibility for the Falkland Islands in late 2009.