Italian Air Force jets secure the skies for five other Alliance members
RAMSTEIN, Germany – The Italian Air Force is keeping busy these days with not only securing its national airspace and augmenting Allied Air Command's Baltic Air Policing mission but also permanently conducting Air Policing over Slovenia, and in conjunction with the Hellenic Air Force, over Albania.
Safeguarding NATO airspace by means of Air Policing is a collective task; agreements exist for Allies that do not have the necessary air capabilities to ensure a single standard of airspace security. When Slovenia became a NATO member in 2004, the Italian Air Force commenced the Air Policing mission for the new Ally. Similarly, when Albania joined NATO in 2009, Air Policing was extended to its airspace. Operating from their home bases both the Greek and Italian Air Forces became responsible to secure the Albanian air space.
The Baltic Air Policing mission began in 2004 with the accession of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to NATO. Since 2014, a second augmenting detachment has performed the mission out of Ämari, Estonia, and Italy is presently executing this role, until April, with four Eurofighter aircraft with its Enhanced Air Policing North - Baltic Eagle detachment. This is the third time the Italian Air Force is part of mission in the Baltics after a back-to-back deployment in Šiauliai and Ämari in 2015. The Baltic deployment provides the Eurofighter jets and crews with a welcome opportunity to fly missions in austere winter conditions with extreme cold and ice.
Italian Air Force Quick Reaction Alert Interceptor fighters are therefore familiar with operating under Allied Air Command's two Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs). For missions in Albanian and Slovenian airspace as well as at home, the Italian Eurofighters are controlled by CAOC Torrejon, Spain, while for missions in the three Baltic States it is the CAOC at Uedem, Germany, that controls the mission.
Allied Air Command's peacetime defensive mission of Air Policing involves the use of the Air Surveillance and Control System, Air Command and Control and fighter aircraft to safeguard the integrity of NATO Alliance members' airspace. Italy provides a valued contribution to this collective defence effort.
Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office from Information provided by the Italian Air Force