In addition to the Air Policing duties, the F-35 aircraft are also scheduled to take part in exercises.
Two Italian Air Force F-35A aircraft of the 32°and 6° Stormo (Wing), soon to be followed by two more aircraft, arrived at Malbork Air Base in Poland on September 13, 2023. The Lightning IIs will patrol the skies over the European eastern flank as part of the NATO deterrence and defence mission.
“The deployment of modern 5th generation fighter aircraft to Poland – just half a year after the end of a similar deployment by Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35 – demonstrates NATO’s ability to forward position advanced fighter capabilities in a flexible manner,” said Major General Gianluca Ercolani, Chief of Staff at Allied Air Command. “It is another proof of the fact that Allies are operating integrated by design under efficient air command and control arrangements to execute meaningful deterrence and defence along the eastern flank”.
Italy, which was the first to deploy F-35s to a NATO mission in 2019, has been regularly deploying the fighters for Air Policing missions, trailblazing the integration of modern 5th generation aircraft into Alliance air operations alongside the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Włoskie 🇮🇹#F35 w Polsce🇵🇱. Wspólnie wzmacniamy zdolności #NATO do odstraszania i obrony. #bezpieczenstwo #WschodniaFlankaNATO
– – – #StrongerTogether #deterrence #defence #NATO https://t.co/GtJInouP0s pic.twitter.com/P0Wnh36pAX
— Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej 🇵🇱 (@MON_GOV_PL) September 14, 2023
“By providing our 5th generation fighter aircraft to NATO, we underscore that Italy is fully committed to supporting the Alliance’s collective enduring missions”, said Lieutenant Colonel Ciro Maschione, Commander of the Italian F-35 Detachment “Task Force Air – 32° Wing”. “Since 2019, the Italian Air Force has seamlessly deployed their F-35s to NATO Air Policing and Air Shielding missions in Iceland and Estonia – as a matter of fact our Eurofighters are leading the 63rd rotation of NATO ‘s Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania in parallel to this F-35 deployment”.
The Italian Air Force F-35s will conduct familiarization flights and will establish a full operational capability in the coming days after the deployment of the others two F-35s, said the press release. Besides joining Polish and other regional fighters in flying NATO Air Policing missions, they are also scheduled to contribute to flexible training missions the Alliance conducts under its enhanced Vigilance Activities.