The Italian Air Force interceptors, recently joined by the German Air Force Eurofighters, continue to support enhanced Air Policing from Romania.
The Italian Air Force detachment, originally made of four Eurofighters, recently increased to eight, has carried out 20 alert scrambles and 400 flight hours supporting enhanced Air Policing Area South (eAPA-S) in Romania, since December 2021.
The F-2000s of the Aeronautica Militare operating as part of the Task Force Black Storm at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, were joined, from mid-February, by six Eurofighters of the German Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74 which contributes personnel and assets to the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service as part of a bilateral collaboration agreement between the two countries.
The support provided by the Task Force Black Storm in terms of operational and logistical structures, and the close integration between the two contingents, allowed Lutwaffe to significantly reduce the logistical effort and shorten both the preparation times and those needed to achieve the operational readiness in theatre.
In fact, shortening set-up times and benefiting from the existing infrastructures for a rapid capacitive build-up are among the goals of NATO’s “Plug & Fight” concept, in accordance to which 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.
Interestingly, both the Italian and the German detachment are fully integrated in the QRA mission, that is carried out jointly with mixed aircraft, personnel and pilots belonging to both Air Forces. To that respect it’s worth of remark that the first joint Alert-Scramble was launched on Mar. 2, 2022.
Although the Italians don’t disclose the type of aircraft that caused the activation of the QRA interceptors, all the scrambles in support of eAPA-S mission have been ordered by the NATO CAOC in Torrejon Spain, to investigate “non-NATO” traffic approaching NATO airspace over the Black Sea.
The aircraft usually establish a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) to monitor the area of competence and dissuade traffic in the area from any unauthorized entry. VIDs (Visual Identifications) are not always required. The Air Policing mission is crucial in this period of heightened tensions in the region caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the risk of Russian Air Force fighters intruding into NATO airspace. Several NATO assets, including F-35s in “full stealth mode“, have been forward deployed to Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and the Baltic States or carry out round-the-clock overwatch patrols with live armament, operating from their homebases.
The importance of the Italy-Germany agreement was underlined on Mar. 3, 2022, during a joint visit to the Mihail Kogălniceanu air base in Constanta, Romania, carried out by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Lt. Gen. Luca Goretti, and by the Chief of the German Air Force , Lt. General Ingo Gerhartz.
Before meeting their respective contingents, the Chiefs of Staff of the two Air Forces had a meeting with the Chief of the Forțele Aeriene Române, Lieutenant General Viorel Pană, during which they paid tribute to the eight crew members of the Romanian Air Force who lost their lives on Mar. 2, 2022, in the crash of a MiG-21 LanceR and a IAR-330 helicopter launched to search and rescue the missing MiG pilot.
“I am proud of you, the contribution you are providing to Italy and NATO is fundamental in the operational scenario in which we find ourselves operating in these days,” said Gen. Goretti addressing the personnel of the Italian detachment during a visit to the Task Force infrastructures accompanied by TFA Commander Col. Morgan Lovisa.
Referring then to the cooperation with the German Air Force, Gen. Goretti said he was “fully satisfied with the high level of standardization and interoperability achieved by the two European air forces. The first mixed scramble carried out yesterday morning is the tangible demonstration of this. Eurofighter has shown, once again, to be an absolutely mature machine with a level of operational performance that is at the heart of NATO’s Air Defense.”
🇮🇹🇩🇪Cooperation. Combined 🇮🇹🇩🇪crew performs 1st line maintenance on a 🇩🇪#Eurofighter – Interoberability amongst allies is key to mission success#StrongerTogether#WeAreNATO@NATO@SHAPE_NATO@NATO_AIRCOM@ItalianAirForce@GermanyNATO pic.twitter.com/vfQNUFcl1H
— Team_Luftwaffe (@Team_Luftwaffe) March 5, 2022