French jet fighters are replacing American ones in defending Icelandic
air space. The U.S. has had troops stationed in Iceland since World War II.
That's because Iceland has no armed forces of its own, and occupies a strategic
position in the north Atlantic. During the Cold War, U.S. warplanes regularly
intercepted Russian maritime patrol aircraft that strayed into Icelandic
airspace. But two years ago, the U.S. Air Force withdrew its fighters. Right
about then, Russian long-range patrol aircraft, which had been absent since the
Cold War ended in 1991, returned. Since then, Russian aircraft have wandered
into Icelandic air space 13 times. So the Icelandic Defense Minister (actually
the Minister of Justice, who also takes care of military matters), asked NATO
for some help. Four French Mirage 2000 interceptors are off to Iceland. Other
NATO countries will provide interceptors on a rotating basis.