Supersonic scramble for the Italian F-16 Jets

Today, two Trapani based F-16s belonging to the 37 Stormo were scrambled to intercept a Lufthansa flight transiting through the Italian airspace. LH8619T, was flying from Milan Linate to Athinai, when at 08.29 LT it lost the radio contact with Padova ATC. The QRA flight of Southern Italy was immediately scrambled to intercept and escort the civilian A300 and two armed “Vipers”, just after take off, were cleared to accelerate to supersonic speed in order to reach the “zombie” as soon as possible.  The consequent shock wave caused a loud “bang” that was heard from many miles away. The two fighters were cruising above Mach 1, when the Lufthansa flight was able to establish the radio contact with “Brindisi Control”, and they were ordered to “skip it”, to slow down to subsonic speed and RTB (Return To Base). The F-16s made a fuel stop to Gioia del Colle before proceeding to Trapani.
This was the 5th scramble of 2008.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Good job of the hunters of 37th wing of Tp Birgi.

    Anyway is wonderful to make a supersonic flight though italian skies…

  2. Cencio can u explain me bcz the pair of interceptors were departed from Birgi AB iso Cervia AB or Grosseto AB?

    The intruder was in the nothern.-central area of Italy.

    Thank u.

  3. I think because the aircraft was flying from North to South: it was easier to send two fighters from South to North because they could intercept the “zombie” that was coming in their direction and then escort it flying with it more or less back towards their homebase. If the Northern QRA had to intercept the aircraft the two fighters would reach the aircraft further ahead and very far from their base and should if zombie needed to be escorted until the end of the Italian airspace they would have to be replaced by the Southern QRA because of fuel shortage: the same intercept would have required 2 scrambles instead of one.


  4. Thanks for yr explanation.

    Anyway the pair of vipers were stopped in Gioia for a fuel stop.


Comments are closed.