Italian F-35s And Eurofighters Escorted Two U.S. B-52s Over Italy During Return From Black Sea Region Mission

B-52 escort F-35
A B-52H is escorted by two F-35s and two F-2000s over Italy. (Image credit: TSgt. Corban Lundborg)

The American Bombers integrated with Italian Air Force F-35s and Eurofighters and Hellenic Air Force F-16s during their long mission to Romania and Bulgaria.

On Mar. 7, 2022, two U.S. B-52 Stratofortress bombers deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, for a Bomber Task Force 22-2 deployment carried out yet another interesting mission in the Black Sea region. Flying as GORGON11 and 12, the two BUFFs, that have launched multiple sorties since they have been stationed in the UK, headed southeast, in the block levels 270-280, and entered the Romanian airspace where they practiced air-land integration drills with Romanian JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).

The presence of the two strategic bombers over Eastern Europe not far from the border with Ukraine, where they have already operated, most probably for deterrence purposes, after the Russian invasion, did not go unnoticed: one of the B-52s was broadcasting its position by means of ADS-B, making the track visible on flight tracking websites, including the popular

The track of GORGON12 (Image credit: screenshot via

After operating in the Romanian airspace, the B-52 headed to Bulgaria where they were spotted circling over a range, before flying towards Greece.

As they transited through the Athinai (Athens) FIR (Flight Information Region) the B-52s were escorted by HAF F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Then, the bombers headed towards Italy. During their crossing of the Italian airspace, the Stratofortresses were intercepted by two F-35A Lightning II aircraft of the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) belonging to the 32° Stormo (Wing) from Amendola Air Base and by two Eurofighter Typhoons of the 132° Gruppo with the 51° Stormo from Istrana AB. The pretty unusual formation provided an opportunity for a photographer aboard one of the B-52 to take some cool shots of the B-52 with the Italian Air Force escort package.

Another dramatic shot of the B-52 escorted by the ItAF fighters. (Image credit: Airman 1st Class Zachary Wrigh)

Obviously, this was not the first time a B-52 crossed the Italian airspace escorted by some Italian Eurofighter of F-35 jets; however, rarely the involved parties have released photographs as cool as those published by NATO Allied Air Command on Mar. 9, 2022, along with a press release with a few details about the joint activity.

After crossing the Italian peninsula, the bombers entered the French airspace from where they headed to their final destination RAF Fairford.

One of the B-52 approaching the Alps. (Image credit: Airman 1st Class Zachary Wrigh)
About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a 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.