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U.S. assumes control of NATO's air policing in North Atlantic

A U.S. Air Force F-15D Eagle, assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron, departs Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, for Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, in support of NATO Air Police operations Thursday. The United States Air Force assumed full control of NATO's commitment to the region Monday. Photo by Jessi Monte/U.S. Air Force
A U.S. Air Force F-15D Eagle, assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron, departs Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, for Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, in support of NATO Air Police operations Thursday. The United States Air Force assumed full control of NATO's commitment to the region Monday. Photo by Jessi Monte/U.S. Air Force

Oct. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force assumed full control of NATO's air policing mission in the North Atlantic this week.

According to the Department of Defense, U.S. F-15C/D Eagles assigned to the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron in Lakenheath, England, were deployed to Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, last week.

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The aircraft will patrol Icelandic air space.

The deployment is part of a NATO mission that began in 2008 with periodic rotations to Iceland.

The United States scaled back its military presence in the North Atlantic when the Cold War ended, but it has been reinvesting resources in the area since Russia invaded eastern Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

"The routine deployment demonstrates Alliance solidarity and the transatlantic linkage at work," said U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, NATO Allied Air Command Deputy Chief of Staff Operations.

In September the Air Force awarded three contracts totaling $38 million to improve the airfield at Keflavik.

The construction projects are intended support the European Deterrence Initiative implemented by U.S. European Command, which includes military exercises and training like the annual Dynamic Mongoose exercise, which this year was held off the coast of Iceland.

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EDI also includes a rotational presence of U.S. forces in Europe.

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