Thursday, February 11, 2016
NATO looks to Poseidon aircraft to plug GIUP gap against Russian submarines
Poseidon aircraft to key on Russian subs between Greenland-Iceland and the U.K.
Gareth Jennings, HIS Janes
10 February 2016
NATO is looking to use its latest maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to more effectively monitor the GIUK gap that runs between Greenland, Iceland, and the UK, following a dramatic increase in Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic over recent months.
With Russian submarines transiting through and operating in the region at their highest levels since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the US Navy (USN) is to locate its latest Boeing P-8A Poseidon MPA in Iceland to better control what is the the Russian Northern Fleet's quickest and safest outlet to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond, while the UK will be looking to achieve the same effect with the P-8A when it reconstitutes its airborne maritime patrol capabilities out of Scotland in the coming years.
According to the Pentagon's budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2017, released on 9 February, the USN is asking for funds to reconstitute its Keflavik base on Iceland for the purpose of supporting rotational deployments of the P-8A there. As noted in the FY 2017 Military Reconstruction Program, European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), the service is looking to install Poseidon-specific infrastructure at the base to "support P-8A short duration/expeditionary type detachments, and reassure allies of the US commitment to their security".
The service does currently fly its Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion MPAs from the same location, and Keflavik is used also for NATO's 'Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland's Peacetime Preparedness Needs' mission (effectively air policing by another name), but with the P-3 being phased out of service in favour of the P-8A an upgrade to the base is required to maintain MPA operations.
While the navy is currently interested only in temporary deployments of the P-8A to Iceland, the Stars and Stripes publication quoted a service official as saying that regular patrol rotations could be established in line with its maritime patrol force at Sigonella in Sicily, where squadrons rotate every six months.