Here’s The Task Force The Italian Air Force Has Deployed To Protect China’s President Xi Jinping During His First Visit To Rome

A Eurofighter Typhoon of the 4° Stormo. (Image credit: Author)

A contingent made of fighters, helicopters and CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) aircraft is enforcing an ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) around Rome, during Xi Jinping visit to Italy.

Preceded by another identical Air China B747-800, on Mar. 21, shortly after 18.00LT, the Air China B747-800 “B-2479” carrying Xi Jinping has landed on runway 34R at Rome Fiumicino airport. But, unlike the rest of the “heavies” arriving at the international airport, “China’s Air Force One” was closely shadowed by two Eurofighter Typhoon jets of the Italian Air Force.

The first Presidential B747-800 landing at Rome Fiumicino on Mar. 21, 2019 (Image credit: The Aviationist’s Giovanni Maduli)
The Presidential B747-800 carrying Xi Jinping landing on RWY 34R at Rome Fiumicino airport (Image credit: The Aviationist’s Giovanni Maduli)

Indeed, the first state visit to Italy of China’s President is being protected by an almost unprecedented task force made of fighters, helicopters, CAEW  aircraft as well as cUAS (counter Unmanned Aerial Systems) and other support teams committed with the air defense of the airspace surrounding Italy’s capital.

Beginning at 17.30LT on Mar. 21 to 16.40LT on Mar. 23, 2019, the Italian authorities have issued several temporary flight restrictions:

  • a No-Fly Zone has been established over downtown Rome
  • a No VFR Zone has been established over the Italian terriorial waters and land within a radius of 35NM (Nautical Miles) from Rome
  • an ADIZ has been established for all the traffic within a radius of 50NM from Rome
  • Rome Urbe airport has been closed to all traffic

The following tweet includes details of the temporary restricted airspaces.

In order to enforce the flight restrictions, the Italian Air Force has activated a task force that includes the two Typhoons of the 4° Stormo (Wing) from Grosseto, which escorted the Presidential Jumbo into Fiumcino and circled over the airport providing air cover; another pair of F-2000A jets in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at Grosseto; round-the-clock SMI (Slow Mover Interceptor) capability with HH139A helicopters of the 15° Stormo and HH212 helicopters of the 9° Stormo with personnel from the 17° Stormo “Incursori” (Raiders Wing); a G.550 CAEW with the 14° Stormo from Pratica di Mare for AEW and Control; cUAS teams from the 16° Stormo “Fucilieri dell’Aria” (Riflemen) tasked with counter mini- and micro-drones mission; and several liaison officers working alongside the Italian Police to coordinate the various activities.

China’s Air Force One as seen from one of the two Italian Air Force Typhoons (Image credit: courtesy ItAF)

Interestingly, the CAEW that provided Airborne Early Warning along Air Space Mangament and Control in coordination with the Air Defense radar sites could be tracked online on the popular Internet website Adsbexchange.com as it circled to the west of Rome as the following screenshot shows:

The ItAF G.550 CAEW supporting the air defense operation could be tracked online on ADSBExchange website. (Image credit: ADSBExchange.com)



About David Cenciotti 3863 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.