“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,” he added.
Two Italian F-35 jets arrived at Malbork, Poland, in the afternoon of September 13, 2023. With two more jets arriving soon, Italy will contribute to NATO's enhanced Air Policing in the region supporting Deterrence and Defence. Photo by Stefano Lulli, Italian Air Force.
Since 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea, several Allies have deployed an additional fighter capability supporting assurance of the populations in the region and enhancing collective Deterrence and Defence. Photo by Stefano Lulli, Italian Air Force.
“With the offer of 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”, he added.
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. 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.
Italy was the first Ally to deploy their F-35s to a NATO mission - in Iceland – trailblazing the integration of modern 5th generation aircraft into Alliance air operations alongside the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.