Four Italian Typhoons have deployed to Bulgaria to bolster NATO’s Air Policing mission in the Black Sea region.
Four Italian Air Force F-2000A Typhoon jets have deployed to Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria, to undertake the NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission from July until October 2017.
The Italian Typhoons belong to the 4° Stormo (Wing) of Grosseto, 36° Stormo from Gioia del Colle and the 37° Stormo from Trapani even though, as always happens when involved in real operations, the Italian aircrews will operate as part of a Task Force where, regardless of the unit, badges and traditions (all the squadrons involved in the deployment have recently celebrated their centenary…) all personnel, aircraft and equipment are completely integrated and interchangeable, thanks to fully standardized procedures and training.
The Italian rotation to Bulgaria will overlap until September with the RAF detachment of four Typhoons deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in Romania as part of the same Southern Air Policing mission.
Following a familiarization phase, the Italian team will undergo certification by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Torrejon, Spain before providing Air Policing tasks alongside the local Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum jets.
Since Bulgaria “is perfectly able to conduct NATO Air Policing with its assets; this enhanced Air Policing capability offered by the Italian jets provides the CAOC with more flexibility to conduct the mission.”
This is the first time the Italian Typhoons take part in the NATO’s Enhanced Air Policing mission in the Black Sea area: so far the ItAF “Tiffies” have supported the Icelandic (in 2013 and earlier this year) and Baltic (in 2015) while supporting the Interim Air Policing task over Slovenia (task shared with the Hungarian Air Force) and over Albania (task shared with the Hellenic Air Force).
“While Air Policing is a collective peacetime task to ensure integrity and security of NATO airspace, the enhanced Air Policing was agreed and implemented by NATO Allies at the Wales Summit in 2014 under the Assurance Measures. These measures are aimed at assuring Allies along the NATO’s eastern flank of Alliance commitment and resolve as well as deterrence and defence,” said NATO in an official release about the deployment.
The images in this post were taken by Nikolay Dimov at Graf Ignatievo as the Italians landed to support the Air Policing task in Bulgaria on Jul. 7, 2017.
Image credit: Nikolay Dimov