Italian Air Force F-2000A Typhoons are pretty busy in the Black Sea region.
Operating as part of the Task Force Black Storm, four Italian Air Force F-2000A jets (as the single seater Eurofighter Typhoons are designated in Italy) are currently deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, for a four-month deployment under NATO’s eAPA-S (Enhanced Air Policing Area South) mission. The mission of the Italian Eurofighters is to contribute to the QRA (Quick Reaction Allert) service in the region augmenting the Romanian MiG-21s.
The Italian Air Force took over the leading role of the eAPA-S from the Royal Canadian Air Force on Dec. 15, 2021. Since the detachment has started the QRA service in Romania, the Italians have carried out a whopping 14 scrambles to respond to unknown aircraft approaching or skirting NATO airspace.
For comparison, during the eAPA-S in 2019, after 2 months, the Italian Typhoons had launched just 4 times, a sign that the situation in the region, with the Ukrainian crisis in full swing, is more tense than it was two years ago, with much more activity in the vicinity of NATO airspace.
The scrambles from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, where the Italians have recently been joined by the German Air Force Eurofighters, are ordered by the CAOC (Combined Air Operations Center) of Torrejon, Spain, the same agency that orders the launch of the fighters in QRA when these support the national air defense from their homebases.
Some interesting detail about the 14th scramble have been disclosed by the Italian MOD. The ItAF F-2000s were launched to respond to unidentified “non-NATO” aircraft that were on a route that would bring them to enter NATO’s airspace.
The Italian aircraft established a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) to monitor the area of competence and dissuade traffic in the area from any unauthorized entry. No VID (Visual Identification) on the “zombies” (as the unknown aircraft are dubbed in fighter pilots phraseology).
Under the lead of the 36° Stormo (Wing), the Task Force Black Storm is supported by personnel from all the Italian Air Force air defense wings: the 4° Stormo from Grosseto, the 36° Stormo from Gioia del Colle, the 37° from Trapani and the 51° from Istrana.