The airliner had lost contact with the Air Traffic Control, sparking the alert launch of two Eurofighters in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert).
On Apr. 9, 2019, two Eurofighter Typhoon jets belonging to the 36° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), were scrambled from Gioia del Colle airbase, in southeastern Italy, to intercept a civilian Boeing 737 of the German TUI Fly airline that had lost radio contact with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) as it flew over Montenegro on its way from Frankfurt (Germany) to Hurghada (Egypt).
The Italian F-2000s conducted a procedure in accordance with NATO’s QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) standard procedure: the Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejon, Spain, may order the “scramble” (alert take-off) when an unidentified track flies close to or inside NATO Allies’ territories; when civilian aircraft lose two-way radio contact with civil ATC agencies or when flights lack the Diplo Clearance (diplomatic clearance) required to enter a nation’s airspace.
Guided by a GCI (Ground Controlled Intercept) controller of the 22° Gruppo Radar (Radar Squadron) based in Licola, the two Eurofighters reached the B737 D-ATYI, flying as TUI6102, as it approached the airspace of Montenegro, performed a VID (Visual Identification) of the airborne target and shadowed it until radio communications with the ATC was established.
Based on the data about the flight available on Flightradar24.com, the intercept took place at FL350, as the airliner was flying at about 450 kts of ground speed.
Italy has been providing the Interim Air Policing for Slovenia since 2004 (jointly with the Hungarian Air Force since 2014) and for Albania since 2009 (jointly with the Hellenic Air Force). NATO Air Policing mission in Montenegro kicked off on Jun. 5, 2018, the day of the anniversary of Montenegro’s membership in NATO. Since then, the Italian and Hellenic Air Force have started protecting the airspace of Montenegro.
Four Italian Typhoons are currently supporting NATO Icelandic Air Policing in Iceland too.