The Italian and German Eurofighters will provide joint QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) under a new “Plug & Fight” concept.
Between the end of February and the beginning of March 2022, the Italian Air Force Eurofighters with the Task Force Black Storm, currently deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, for a four-month deployment under NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission will jointly operate with the Eurofighters of the German Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74.
In accordance with the “plug & fight” concept, the three German Eurofighters will operate within the Italian-led eAPA-S (Enhanced Air Policing Area South) mission, contributing, for a short period, to the QRA (Quick Reaction Allert) service, carried out jointly with mixed aircraft, personnel and pilots belonging to both Air Forces.
According to NATO Allied Air “within the concept of ‘Plug & Fight’ a small contingent of personnel and aircraft from one Ally conducts operations with another Ally by docking on existing structures, thereby further developing interoperability during a live deployment. A highly innovative concept, ‘Plug & Fight’ operations have been executed between the German and British Air Forces before in Romania as well as during Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania and Estonia.”
In addition to improving interoperability between allied assets, the “plug & fight” concept offers the possibility to promote capability synergies, optimizing the resources and means available in deployable scenarios. The arrival of the three German aircraft, supported by the operational and logistic structures guaranteed by the Task Force Black Storm, in fact, will allow Luftwaffe to contain its logistical footprint as a whole, by integrating into the Italian contingent, shortening set-up times and benefiting from the existing infrastructures for a rapid capacitive build-up.
“Activities like these guarantee an important training and operational return because they will allow us to exchange our experiences with our German colleagues”, said Col. Morgan Lovisa, commander of the Black Storm Task Force, in a public release. “The F-2000 is now mature as proved by the numerous areas in which it is called to operate and activities like this one are a further opportunity for growth. Our mission in Romania is to strengthen the air defense capabilities of this country as foreseen by the agreements between the NATO member countries.”
The Italian Air Force took over from the Royal Canadian Air Force at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania on Dec. 15, 2021, to augment the Romanian MiG-21s. The detachment is made of 140 servicemen and four F-2000A jets (as the single seater Eurofighter Typhoons are designated in Italy). The Italian Typhoons have already carried out the eAPA-S in 2019.
The integration of the German Air Force Eurofighters with the Italian Air Force Task Force in Romania is just one of the several initiatives NATO Allies are putting in place to reinforce the Allied deterrence and defence in the region as Russia continues its military build-up around Ukraine.
In the last few weeks, Denmark has announced the deployment of a frigate to the Baltic Sea and the deployment of four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania in support of NATO’s long-standing air-policing mission in the region. Spain is sending ships to join NATO naval forces and is considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria. France has expressed its readiness to send troops to Romania under NATO command. The Netherlands is sending two F-35 fighter aircraft to Bulgaria from April to support NATO’s air-policing activities in the region, and is putting a ship and land-based units on standby for NATO’s Response Force.
Meanwhile, several ISR assets carry out daily surveillance missions over Ukraine, some of those can be tracked online using OSINT (Open Sources Intelligence) tools:
Today, at least five US aircraft flew ISR sorties over Ukraine and around Belarus: USAF RQ-4 (FORTE12), USN P-8A (PS06x), US Army ARTEMIS (BRIO68). 1/3 pic.twitter.com/MdjVrShLef
— Amelia (@ameliairheart) February 6, 2022
The Mediterranean Sea is pretty busy too, with three NATO carriers, the USS Truman, the Italian Navy Cavour and the French Navy Charles De Gaulle with their carrier strike groups conducting joint drills as Russian Navy is deploying warships to the Black Sea.
WOW! What a group! 🇺🇸🇮🇹🇫🇷⚓️
The @USSHARRYSTRUMAN Strike Group integrated with @MarineNationale Charles de Gaulle’s Task Force 473 & @ItalianNavy carrier Cavour strike groups, highlighting the strength of the maritime partnerships among the 3⃣ nations.https://t.co/XUiaKTD3Qn pic.twitter.com/8mOLw4eUku
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet (@USNavyEurope) February 7, 2022