Photo: This is what being intercepted inside a No-Fly Zone by an F-16 fighter jet looks like

I took the following picture few years ago while flying a so-called SMI (Slow Mover Interception) exercise from Trapani airbase, in Sicily, Italy.

On board a slow moving Siai 208 single engine light plane, whose task was to simulate a renegade aircraft violating a No-Fly Zone guarded by F-16 fighter jets on CAP (Combat Air Patrol).

The two Italian Air Force F-16 ADFs, intercepted us at 3,000 feet over the sea between the northeast coast of Sicily and Favignana island, using their APG-66 radars, and escorted us outside the (fictional) NFZ.

Here’s what I saw from the right hand seat as the fighters (belonging to the Trapani-based 18° Gruppo) moved from the astern to the abeam position.

Small planes violate temporary restricted airspace quite often in the U.S. and they get intercepted by USAF F-16s and F-15s.

The Italian Air Force has recently returned its Libya Air War veteran F-16s leased from the U.S. The 18° Gruppo at Trapani, is about to get its first Eurofighter Typhoons.

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.