- The U.S. is deploying 12 F-15C Eagles and approximately 350 airmen to Iceland and the Netherlands
- Iceland is the only country in NATO that does not have a military
- The F-15s are part of the U.S.'s Theater Security Packages, a rotational force used to augment existing Air Force capabilities in Europe
- The aircraft are scheduled to remain in Europe through September
By Dailymail.com Reporter
Published: 17:11 EST, 2 April 2016 | Updated: 17:11 EST, 2 April 2016
The United States has deployed 12 F-15C Eagle fighter jets and and approximately 350 airmen to Iceland and the Netherlands.
The Air Force announced that the U.S. aircraft came from the 131st Fighter Squadron at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts and the 194th Fighter Squadron at Fresno Air National Guard Base in California.
Their mission will be support NATO air surveillance missions in Iceland and conduct flying training in the Netherlands.
Team America: A small group of U.S. F-15 fighter jets (pictured) have travelled to Icland and The Netherlands to carry out military exercises
According to CNN, the F-15 fighter jets are part of several deployments of American fighters being sent to Europe in an effort to deter further Russian aggression in the region.
In February, the U.S. said it will send six F-15s to Finland as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which the United States initiated in 2014 to reassure NATO allies after Russian military intervention in Ukraine. These aircraft are scheduled to deploy next month.
Although it maintains a small coast guard force, Iceland is the only country in NATO that does not have a military.
The U.S. used to have an air base in Iceland during the Cold War when Iceland sat at a key strategic location in the middle of the Atlantic, but the base was closed in 2006.
Mission: Units will conduct training alongside NATO allies and partners as part of the U.S. commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, at peace, secure, and prosperous and to deter further Russian aggression
While NATO has maintained air control over Iceland since 2008, their defenses have been unable to stop Russia from reportedly making air incursions into Icelandic airspace.
In the case of Finland, the country remains a 'neutral', although it has edged closer to the NATO defence alliance in recent years, alarming Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Between 70 and 100 members of the Oregon Air National Guard will spent two weeks undertaking the exercises, which could yet include Norway and Sweden, Yle.fi reported.
Mika Varvikko, an official at the Finnish Department of Defence, said: 'Co-operation with the U.S. is close and our co-operation on a practical level has been and will continue to remain tight.'
Tensions with Russia have grown in recent years following Putin's aggressive power plays in eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Relations remain at a low following its annexation of Crimea in 2014, its clandestine support for rebel forces in eastern Ukraine, and its bombing of Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad.
Finland's announcement also comes a day after it was revealed Putin was scrambling 8,500 troops, 200 warplanes and 50 battleships from his military reserves in the south-west.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said yesterday the country's large military manoeuvres will feature airborne troops and military transport aviation, as well as the navy.
He noted that the drills are intended to check the troops' ability to respond to extremist threats and other challenges.
The manoeuvres will test the troops' mobility, with some being deployed to areas up to 1,800 miles away, the military said.
Russia's military drills come as tensions with the West continue to worsen as it flexes its military might on the international stage
Vladimir Putin has demonstrated his country's resurgent military might with an air campaign in Syria in support of president Bashar al-Assad
Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in a statement that up to 8,500 troops, 900 ground weapons, 200 warplanes and about 50 warships will be involved in the drills.
Russia has demonstrated its resurgent military might with its air campaign in Syria, which helped President Bashar Assad's military win a series of victories in recent weeks.
The military used the Syrian operation to test new types of weapons in actual combat for the first time, including long-range air-and-sea-launched cruise missiles.
The air blitz in Syria has badly strained Russia's relations with Turkey, which shot down a Russian warplane at the border with Syria in November.