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​An F-15C with the 871st Air Expeditionary Squadron arrives at Keflavik International Airport, Iceland, on April 13, 2015, in support of the Icelandic Air Surveillance and Policing mission. Some 200 airmen are deployed to Iceland for the NATO mission to secure Iceland’s airspace. [USAF Photo by SSgt. Chad Warren]

​A deployment of USAF F-15Cs, a KC-135, and some 200 airmen have begun air surveillance and policing operations in Iceland, US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa officials announced. Four F-15Cs from RAF Lakenheath, England deployed as part of the package, along with a KC-135 from RAF Mildenhall and some 200 airmen from various USAFE-AF Africa bases, kicking off 871st AES operations on April 17. Since 2008, the Keflavik International Airport has hosted NATO partner nation aircraft in support of the Icelandic air security mission. The US removed its permanently stationed forces from the nation when it closed Naval Air Station Keflavik in 2006, but NATO has maintained its commitment to providing defense for Iceland by rotating air defense forces from its member states in the years since. “We’ve been honoring these commitments with our partners here in Iceland for a long time,” said USAF Lt. Col. John Stratton commander of the 871st AES. “It’s an extremely important relationship, an extremely important partnership and a very, very important mission we do.”