Here’s a collection of pictures of Soviet aircraft intercepted by ItAF F-104s in the ’80s. As Col. Agrusti, a former 12th Gruppo pilot with a huge experience as a QRA pilot in the Memories of a fighter pilot article, those flights frequent before being abandoned in 1992 amid financial difficulties following the Soviet collapse. As a proof, there are many pictures depicting Italian F-104 flying along side Soviet or Libyan aircraft in the Adriatic, Ionian or Tyrrhenian Sea. I was given by the Italian Air Force some of those pictures during the preparation of my article, photos that were published with my text on both Aeronautica & Difesa and Air Forces Monthly. Here you can find some of them. Quality is poor, since the majority of these pictures were taken with hand-held cameras, whose films were developed then copied many times for release (all pics by Italian Air Force).
Despite wearing a civilian registration this An-22 was operated by the military transport arm of the Soviet Air Force. The “Cock” was often used to deliver aicraft to Libya and Algeria.
The Il-76 “Candid” was another transport aircraft often met by Italian fighters in the International airspace.
The Tu-16 flew in many specialized variants providing reconnaissance, maritime surveillance, electronic support missions to both Soviet Air Force and Naval Aviation and for this reason the “Badger” was one of the most frequent “zombies” intercepted by the Italian F-104s.