MALBORK, Poland - In the afternoon of September 21, 2023, two F-35 of the Italian Air Force Task Force Air-32nd Wing executed their first alert scramble out of Malbork Air Base, Poland under NATO orders.
NATO fighter jets regularly launch for routine missions along the Alliance’s borders to keep Alliance populations and territories protected
NATO radars picked up the tracks of Russian aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea close to NATO borders. Launched by NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem to investigate the incident, the Italian F-35s intercepted and identified two Russian Federation Su-30 FLANKER fighter jets which were not on a flight plan and had not contact to Air Traffic control.
An Italian F-35 pilot gets ready to enter the cockpit during aircraft preparations for the first alert scramble at Malbork, Poland on September 21. Photo by Stefano Lulli, Italian Air Force.
Aircraft ground crew finalising aircraft mission preparations for the first Italian F-35 alert scramble at Malbork, Poland. Photo by Stefano Lulli, Italian Air Force.
An Italian F-35 taxies for take-off at Malbork, Poland. NATO's enhanced Air Policing mission underscores commitment and cohesion among Allies and ensures deterrence and defence. Photo by Stefano Lulli, Italian Air Force.
Take-off into the skies above Malbork, Poland, for the first alert scramble of the Italian F-35 detachment during their watch under NATO enhanced Air Policing. Photo by Stefano Lulli, Italian Air Force.
Upon identification, the F-35s escorted the Russian jets towards national Russian borders. The encounter was conducted in a professional manner and the NATO F-35/ returned to Malbork Air Base upon completion of the mission. At no time did the Russian aircraft enter NATO airspace.
NATO fighter jets regularly launch for such routine missions along the Alliance’s borders e.g. on the Baltic Sea shores to keep Alliance populations and territories protected.
The Italian F-35 detachment, called Task Force Air 32nd Wing, is currently deployed in Poland under NATO’s enhanced Air Policing available 24/7 to support Alliance deterrence and defence activities.