Italian G550 CAEW Aircraft Carried Out First Surveillance Mission Over Eastern Europe Today

G550 CAEW
File photo of MM62293/14-11 landing at Pratica di Mare Air Base (Image credit: Author)

One of the two Italian Air Force G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) aircraft flew a mission over Eastern Romania near the border with Moldova and Ukraine for 4 hours today.

One of the two G550 CAEW aircraft of the 14° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), flew a surveillance mission inside the Romanian airspace, not far from the eastern border with Moldava and south of the border with Ukraine, on Mar. 8, 2022. This was the very first the first time the Italian surveillance aircraft flew over Eastern Europe following the Russian invasion.

The Italian special-mission G550 aircraft joins a team of NATO assets, including U.S. E-8 JSTARS and RC-135V/W, British Airseeker ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft which are almost constantly monitoring the situation on the ground and in the air in Ukraine and along the borders with Belarus and Moldova. On Mar. 7, 2022, an Italian Air Force KC-767A tanker had also carried out the type’s first mission over Eastern Europe in support of fighter jets tasked with NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission.

File photo of a G550 CAEW. (Image credit: ItAF)

The Italian CAEW asset is basically a “flying radar” although it does much more than that: it’s an AEW-BM & C (Airborne Early Warning – Battlefield Management and Communication) asset that can monitor a certain area for unknown traffic, manage allied missions as well as gather intelligence on enemy emissions with onboard ESM (Electronic Support Measures) sensors. The data can be shared with all the relevant “players”, including ground radar stations, other aircraft, ships, etc. In other words, it’s an extremely high-value asset for both Italy and NATO as it is crucial to achieve the so-called “Information Superiority” (i.e. the operational advantage derived from the ability to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an adversary’s ability to do the same).

As for the other “spyplanes” and tankers operating in the region these days, the Italian CAEW,, could be watched online on flight tracking websites: flying as PERSEO71, the G550 took off around 03.30UTC, started flying the assigned racetrack at FL410 at 05.00UTC and remained in the area of operation until 09.00UTC, when it must have called “off station” starting RTB (Return To Base). The aircraft, MM62293/14-11, landed at Pratica di Mare, at 10.50UTC, after a +7-hour mission.

PERSEO 71
The track of PERSEO71 on Mar. 8, 2022. (Image credit: via Flightradar24.com)

As explained in a previous post, as part of the Italian JAMMS  (Joint Airborne Multi-sensor Multi-mission System) program, the Italian Air Force plans to operate a fleet of 10 special-mission configured G550s: along with the two G550 CAEW aircraft, two new AISREW (Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Electronic Warfare) aircraft for SIGINT missions and six “green” airframes that can be converted at a later stage to either JAMMS or CAEW configurations.

A first new aircraft, not equipped with all the ‘lumps and bumps’ and other apertures and fairings destined to be integrated on the AISREW platform has just been delivered: it will be initially used for training purposes and converted to the mission configuration at a later stage.

About David Cenciotti
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 five books and contributed to many more ones.

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