A quite unusual sight for the passengers of an Alitalia Airbus 320 from Amsterdam escorted by two German Eurofighters for about 20 minutes.
A video of two German Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets escorting an Alitalia flight has emerged after some passengers reported that their plane, on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Rome Fiumicino, had been flanked and escorted by German warplanes.
Indeed, the footage, filmed with a smartphone shows the two Typhoons shadowing the civil plane.
Based on Flightradar24.com logs, the civil liner, an Airbus A320 registration EI-DSM, took off from Schipol at about 12.20 PM LT, climbed at 35,000 feet and crossed the German airspace flying more or less over Dusseldorf, Cologne, the west of Frankfurt and Stuttgard.
According to Fabio Guccione, owner of a travel agency in Palermo, who talked to several media outlets: “Someone asked the hostess to have information from the pilots about the reasons of the “escort”. But after a few minutes the flight attendant came back saying that the captain did not want to say anything.”
Sometimes, air defense radars ask (through the relevant ATC agency) flights passing through their sector whether they would be willing to be intercepted for training purposes; still, such requests are addressed to other military aircraft and not to civil planes, whose passengers could be scared by the sight of two (usually) armed combat planes.
“I’m instructed by Her Majesty’s government of the United Kingdom to warn you if you do not respond you will be shot down”
On Oct. 29, two RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled from RAF Coningsby airbase, and flew at supersonic speeds across the UK to intercept a Latvian Antonov An-26 cargo plane that took an unauthorized detour over London causing concern to civil air traffic control.
The two Eurofighter warplanes on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) reached the Soviet-designed cargo plane (registration YL-RAA) on its way to Birmingham airport and forced it to land at Stansted airport.
Interestingly, the pilot of the lead RAF Typhoon (radio callsign “L9T47″) which intercepted the Latvian plane (callsign MLA1605) radioed warning the three-man crew on board the foreign plane to listen to military instructions or risk being ‘shot down’.
NATO Baltic Air Policing mission is quite busy these days….
According to the Latvian military, on Oct. 28, the German Air Force Eurofighter jets on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at Amari, Estonia, to provide NATO Baltic Air Policing were scrambled to intercept seven Russian Air Force planes flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.
Regardless to whether the Russian aircraft were involved in one of the frequent training missions in the Baltics or were commuting to/from the Russian airfield in Kaliningrad oblast, the package on Oct 28 represents one of the largest “formations” intercepted by NATO fighter planes during the last couple of years.
Anyway, Russian Air Force missions in the Baltic area have surged, to such an extent NATO presence has quadrupled in the last year: from one nation providing four aircraft in QRA at one base in Lithuania (Šiauliai), to four nations (currently Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Canada) at two airbases (the second being Amari, in Estonia).
According to the Italian Air Force, the aircraft, registration VT-ANQ, lost radio contact with the Air Traffic Control agencies and entered the Italian airspace unauthorized. For this reason the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) cell at Grosseto airbase was scrambled to intercept, identify and escort the liner, as done last month with a Lebanese A320 following a bomb threat.
The two F-2000A jets of the 4° Stormo (Wing) reached the B787 at 24,000 feet to the southeast of Rome. The Typhoons identified the civil plane and shadowed it from distance, not to be seen by passengers and once at 30 kilometers from destination, they were cleared to return to their base.
Above, a screenshot from Flightradar24.com showing the route followed by the AIC123 flight.