A month after completing the enhanced Air Policing mission in Romania, the Italian Air Force is now supporting the 60th rotation of NATO’s Air Policing mission in the Baltic region.
Four Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) F-2000A jets (as the single seater Eurofighter Typhoons are designated in Italy) have been deployed to the 22nd Tactical Air Base in Malbork, Poland, to augment NATO’s enhanced Air Policing in the Baltic region. This is the first time the Italian jets deploy there for a NATO mission and the eight time they perform Air Policing duties in the region.
The Italian Air Force just recently completed NATO’s eAPA-S (Enhanced Air Policing Area South) mission in Romania. Initially supposed to last only four months, the mission lasted for seven months and was completed on July 1, 2022. This was due to NATO’s response to Russian actions in Ukraine, which also led to the Italian detachment doubling the number of deployed aircraft, bringing the total to eight Typhoons.
Four Eurofighters Typhoon from @ItalianAirForce touched down at Malbork Air Base🇵🇱on Thursday.The deployment of Italian fighters takes place under the auspices of the existing NATO enhanced Air Policing posture introduced in 2014. #enhancedAirPolicing #WeareNATO #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/YgCc80tsUI
— Poland MOD 🇵🇱 (@Poland_MOD) July 29, 2022
4 myśliwce Eurofighter z @ItalianAirForce wylądowały dziś w 22. Bazie Lotnictwa Taktycznego w Malborku. Przez najbliższe miesiące włoscy 🇮🇹 lotnicy będą realizowali zadania w ramach sojuszniczej wzmocnionej misji nadzoru przestrzeni powietrznej #enhancedAirPolicing. pic.twitter.com/Q3hjD944VS
— Sztab Generalny WP (@SztabGenWP) July 28, 2022
“In these seven months, our team and the Italian Eurofighters achieved about 1,400 flight hours, generating over seven hundred sorties, more than half of them flown as eVA Combat Air Patrol missions, and about 50 alert scrambles,” said Colonel Losengo, commander of Task Force Air – Romania (TFA-R) “Black Storm”, about the achievements in support of the Alliance.
Now, on July 28, four F-2000As arrived in Poland to establish the new Task Force Air “White Eagle” in support of the 60th rotation of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, which begins on August 1. The Italian detachment will declare the Full Operational Capability on that day and will begin to operate immediately and provide a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) capability to protect NATO’s North-East flank. The mission will last until November 30, 2022.
Each Typhoon Wing of the ItAF sent a jet to Poland for this detachment and the 4° Stormo (Wing) will lead the TFA. The Italian jets will augment the effort provided by the Hungarian Gripens, which are leading this rotation, from Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, and the German Eurofighters that are getting ready to be deployed to Ämari Air Base, Estonia.
“The Baltic and enhanced Air Policing missions continue to demonstrate the collective nature of NATO as a defensive Alliance,” said Lieutenant General Pascal Delerce, Deputy Commander of Allied Air Command. “While Hungary, Germany and Italy will be ensuring the 60th rotation of Air Policing in the region, Allies have swiftly provided even more assets contributing to our new Air Shielding mission that will enable a long-term increase in the air and missile defence posture along the eastern flank in response to changes in the security situation,” he added.
Let’s not forget the arrival of the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors, which are deploying to the 32nd Tactical Air Base, Łask, Poland, exactly to support NATO’s Air Shielding mission. A dozen aircraft arrived at RAF Lakenheath, UK, on July 26 and 27, from where they will move to Poland. Also participating in the Air Shielding mission are the US F-35As currently deployed at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
🇭🇺JAS39 Gripen, 🇪🇸 @EjercitoAire 🇨🇦 @RCAF_ARC F18 Hornet, 🇩🇪 @Team_Luftwaffe 🇮🇹 @ItalianAirForce Eurofighters Typhoon is starting the @NATO Air Policing mission early August#NATO fighter jets remain ready around the clock to protect Allied airspace#SecuringTheSkies @NATOpress pic.twitter.com/3WqI1Tw8oj
— NATO Air Command (@NATO_AIRCOM) July 29, 2022
The mission appears to be both a complementary mission and a stepping-up of the efforts already in place with the various Air Policing missions. As mentioned by the Allied Air Command, “The NATO Air Shielding mission integrates Allied Air and Surface Based Air and Missile Defence units into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence system under NATO Command and Control. It will provide a near seamless shield from the Baltic to Black Seas, ensuring NATO Allies are better able to safeguard and protect Alliance territory, populations and forces from air and missile threat.”