Tag Archives: Air Policing

Italian Typhoons and Greek F-16s Take Over NATO Air Policing mission over Montenegro

With the symbolic intercept of a Montenegrin Government aircraft, Italian and Greek fighters have kicked off a new NATO Air Policing mission.

On Jun. 5, the day of the anniversary of Montenegro’s membership in NATO, the Italian and Hellenic Air Force have started protecting the airspace of Montenegro. The new NATO Air Policing mission kicked off with the simulated intercept of a Montenegrin government Learjet 45 (the aircraft registered 4O-MNE) by two Greek F-16s and two Italian Typhoons.

The Montenegrin Minister of Defence Predrag Boškovič, NATO’s representative, Brigadier General Roberto di Marco, Deputy Commander of NATO’s Depoyable Air Command and Control Centre, and the Italian Air Force representative, Major General Silvano Frigerio, watched the fighters flying up to Learjet, signal to the pilots and escort them to a safe landing to the military part of the Podgorica Airport.

An ItAF F-2000A escorts the Montenegrin Learjet 45 during Jun. 5 simulated intercept. Image credit: GOV.ME/S. Matić

The jets conducted a procedure in accordance with NATO’s QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) standard procedure: the Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejon, Spain, commands the “scramble” (alert take-off) when the unidentified track flies close to or inside NATO Allies’ territories. This often happens when civilian aircraft lose two-way radio contact with civil ATC (Air Traffic Control) agencies or when flights lack the Diplo Clearance (diplomatic clearance) required to enter a nation’s airspace. Italian or Greek fighters will be launched to intercept, identify, escort and/or assist the corresponding aircraft.

Two HAF F-16s close on the LJ45 left wing. Image credit: GOV.ME/S. Matić

The Italian Air Force Typhoons that took part in the simulated intercept were launched from Gioia del Colle airbase, in southeastern Italy, home of the 36° Stormo (Wing) and its two squadrons: the X and XII Gruppo. Italy is the only NATO nation to support five interim Air Policing missions for nations that do not have an autonomous air defense capability: Slovenia, Albania, Iceland, Baltic States and Montenegro.

With four Italian F-2000 Typhoons deployed to Amari, Estonia, as part of the Enhanced Air Policing North Baltic Eagle, from January to April 2018, the Italian Air Force secured the airspaces of six nations [Italy, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia and Albania (on a rotational basis with effort shared with the Hellenic Air Force)]: a record among NATO allies.

Two Aeronautica Militare Eurofighter Typhoon jets took off from Gioia del Colle in southern Italy to simulate an intercept of a Montenegrin government plane marking the kick off for the NATO Air Policing over Montenegro. Photo: Aeronautica Militare,

Here are the first photographs of the Italian Typhoons arriving in Iceland to provide NATO Air Policing duties

The Italian Typhoons have arrived in Keflavik.

On Mar. 17, supported by two KC-767A tanker of the 14° Stormo (Wing) from Pratica di Mare airbase, six Italian Air Force Typhoons have arrived in Iceland to undertake QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) and NATO Air Policing duties.

The Eurofighter F-2000A jets (this is the designation of the single-seaters in accordance with the Italian Mission Design Seies) belong to the three units that operate the Typhoon: the 4° Stormo, from Grosseto; the 36° Stormo, from Gioia del Colle; and the 37° Stormo, from Trapani.

A Typhoon of the 18° Gruppo sporting the typical checkered tail.

An F-2000A from the Gioia del Colle-based 36° Stormo. Two Gruppi depend from this Wing: the 10 and 12° Gruppo.

The aircraft will operate until mid-April as part of a Task Force where personnel and equipment are completely integrated and interchangeable thanks to fully standardized procedures and training.

The images in this post were taken by photographer Eggert Norðdahl as the Typhoons arrived at Keflavik airbase for their second tour of duty in Iceland: in June 2013, as part of Operation “Icy Skies”, six Italian Eurofighters securing the airspace on the ally in the “High North.”

One of the Typhoons of the 4° Stormo. The Italians deployed to Iceland with three drop tanks, one AIM-120 AMRAAM and one IRIS-T air-to-air missile.

Image credit: Eggert Norðdahl


The F-2000s of the 12° Gruppo begin the alert service duty

On Jan 5, at 12.00 LT, the 12° Gruppo belonging to the 36° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF), based in Gioia del Colle, will undertake its first QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duty with the Eurofighter F-2000 Typhoon since 5 years (the last QRA was undertaken with the Tornado F.3s leased by the RAF. For more background information about the last days of the ADV in ItAF service read also the following article: Il 36° Stormo). The Squadron received its first Eurofighter Typhoon on Oct 1, 2007, immediately starting the training required to achieve the operational capabilities needed to be employed in the air policing role. On Dec 1, 2008, the Squadron has achieved its first 1.000 flight hours on the type, a significant event that was celebrated with a flypast of a 5 ships formation on Gioia airbase. Beginning on Jan 5, 2009 the “Strali” (Strale is the Sqn’s radio callsign), will be again part of the SSSA (Servizio Sorveglianza Spazio Aereo, Airspace Surveillance Service) providing the Air Defense of the Italian airspace along with the F-2000s belonging to the 9° Gruppo of the 4° Stormo, based in Grosseto and the F-16s of the 10° and 18° Gruppo, both belonging to the 37° Stormo, based in Trapani, and of the 23° Gruppo (5° Stormo, Cervia). The involvement of another Italian Eurofighter Squadron in the Air Defense of the Southern Flank (Gioia del Colle is located in SE Italy), comes in a period of particularly intense Russian activity in the E. Mediterranean Sea. The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier has already sailed in the Ionian Sea and it is expected to conduct air operations within the Athens FIR in the next weeks. Russian Sukhoi 25 and Su-33 aircraft, along with Kamov helicopters would take part in the operations.
The Londondailynews.com website published the following interesting article on the topic:

Greeks give “Green light” to Russian war games in Med

International Desk
A Russian war frigate has for the first time since the Cold War commenced a military exercise in NATO airspace, with the Greek government granting permission for Russian jets and naval ships to undertake war games from today 2 January upto 11 January.
Speaking to Reuters the Russian Government said:

“The Kuznetsov, which is sailing in the southeast Mediterranean, asked Greece’s civil aviation authority to operate within the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR),” the ministry said in a statement. “The request was granted. Greek defence officials said that Russian Sukhoi 25 and Sukhoi 33 fighter aircraft would take part in the operations, as well as Kamov helicopters. The Greek Civil Aviation Authority and Ports Authority have permitted Russian military to carry out according to military analysts in Athens a “full scale military war game” at the time when the Israelis are about to launch a ground offensive against the Palestinians.
Foreign embassies in Athens have requested clarification from the Greek Government over the Russian war games, with the US Embassy particularly concerned. The geographical area being used by the Russian military is south of Attalia of Turkey and east of Tarsou of Syria, and is a particularly sensitive hot-point, as the area is disputed by the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey over who has rights to exploit oil in the area.
Analysts in the region are saying that Russia is flexing her muscles to show the United States that she is prepared to act in areas where her “national interests” are threatened. The “near East” as the East Mediterranean has been known is particularly important for Russia, and the Greek government has played a strategic part with the Russian’s, following several high level agreements over economic co-operation.
Russian military ambitions have extended to a programme of a new nuclear powered aircraft carrier with intelligence reports stating that: “The program of building new aircraft carrying cruiser ships that Russia is
adopting after President Medvedev’s announcement was not born recently. The first Russian cruiser ships with aircraft carrying capability were built in the 1980s and 1990s. However, a lack of money prevented this programme from its natural course and finally it was abandoned, only to be restored in full and with a vengeance in 2008. It is due to be completed in 2015. A US aircraft carrier is a floating flight deck with hangars for the aircraft and barracks for pilots and marines. A Russian aircraft-carrying cruiser is a slightly smaller ship with fewer aircraft on board but heavily armed with missiles, both operational and tactical, plus a strong anti-aircraft capability. The result is that a US carrier cannot travel without its support group, while a Russian cruiser is capable of conducting combat operations alone. “

During the Cold War, close encounters of Soviet bombers and reconnaissance aircraft transiting through the Southern Adriatic Sea with the F-104 interceptors of the 12° Gruppo were frequent (read: Memories of a fighter pilot, pictures here: Zombies). With the incresed Russian air and naval activities in the Med., it is possible that, in the next months, the Gioia del Colle F-2000s will be asked to intercept some aircraft wearing the famous Red Star as the RAF Typhoons have been doing quite often from more than 1 year.

The following pictures are courtesy of the 12° Gruppo and Troupe Azzurra/Aeronautica Militare