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Iceland Mag

Politics

US Navy set to return to its former base at Keflavík International Airport

By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

After a ten year absence the US Navy is planning a return to Keflavík Airbase. According to the news site Stars and Stripes, a US Department of Defence authorized news outlet, the Navy has requested funds on the 2017 defence budget for the upgrading of an aircraft hangar in Keflavík. The upgrade would allow the hangar to house patrol planes hunting for Russian submarines in the North Atlantic.

Last year the Deputy Secretary of Defence Bob Work visited Iceland, inspecting the facilities in Keflavík. Among the sites visited by Work was the hangar which has housed the P-3 planes noting it would need to be upgraded. At the time the question of re-establishing a permanent US presence in Iceland was also raised. 

Read more: US considering restationing troops in Iceland

Currently the Keflavík Airbase, which was built by the US in WWII, has been used by planes from the US and other NATO members. The US Navy has used the base for Boeing P-3 Orion planes on anti-submarine reconnaissance, operating out of Sicily. Increasing Russian activity in the North Atlantic recently has led to growing concern, and the planned updates in Keflavík will make it possible for the Navy to operate larger Boeing P-8 Poseidon planes from Keflavik.

Read more: Strategic significance of Iceland grows as Russian presence in North Atlantic grows

The Keflavík Naval base was an important military base during the Cold War. It was operated by the US Navy, which used it to monitor Soviet movements in the North Atlantic, both the movements of long range bombers and submarine. The base, which was one of the largest towns in Iceland throughout most of its operations, home to thousands of US servicemen, closed down in 2006. Since then the base has been maintained by the Icelandic government.

 

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