"The mission is going very well both operationally and logistically," said the Detachment Commander, Italian Air Force Colonel Vincenzo Sirico "We were able to respond with a 100% efficiency to all scramble orders from NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany. The well-established sound procedures, excellent crew skills, maintenance support and the F-35 robustness has enabled us to live up to the expectations for the enduring Allied mission," he added.
Embedding 5th generation jets in this collective defence mission on the Alliance's eastern flank demonstrates how NATO adapts and enhances its posture to provide 24/7 vigilance and responsiveness in the region and beyond
Deploying this modern fighter aircraft to an enduring mission for the first time comes with challenges, but Italy has been able to draw on the lessons learned from deploying the F-35 to NATO's Air Policing mission in Iceland in 2019 and 2020.
Two Italian Air Force F-35 fighter aircraft flying over Estonia during a training mission helping integration of modern fifth generation technology into NATO's enduring Air Policing mission in the Baltic region. Photo and thumbnail of the story by Giovanni Colla.
"In my opinion, the special part about deploying F-35 for the first time was that it was not like deploying for the first time. All the personnel and the support structures were designed, thought and implemented to make the deployment seamless," said Colonel Sirico. "We achieve this outstanding result due to a coordinated and professional process involving the whole Italian Air Force way before the Task Force was even created. Thanks to this holistic approach, we were able to deploy and operate in Estonia rapidly end efficiently with comprehensive and enabling logistic support," he added.
According to Colonel Sirico, "procedures were designed, coordinated and studied in order to provide crews with appropriate training to allow 24/7 aircraft readiness and availability". At the very beginning, the detachment concentrated on consolidating those procedures in the new 'habitat'. "Thanks to a team effort, the detachment was able to employ the F-35 like any other aircraft on alert, not encountering any problems even in a different than usual environment away from home," he added.