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May 3 2024

Italy helps keep Polish airspace safe

RAMSTEIN, Germany – Italian Eurofighters scrambled twice in a day last week out of Malbork Air Base to safeguard the skies over Poland under NATO enhanced Air Policing arrangements. The Italian pilots continue to fly sorties and train with their Polish colleagues showcasing Alliance cohesion and commitment to legitimate collective security in the region.

Our jets demonstrate the detachment’s high readiness posture and availability to preserve the integrity of NATO airspace

The first scramble occurred in the morning of April 25, when NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, ordered an alert take-off to the Italian Eurofighter detachment to investigate an unidentified aircraft flying over international waters near NATO airspace. The pilots visually identified a Russian surveillance aircraft and escorted it for a while.

An Italian Eurofighter and a Polish MiG-29 conduct a combined training mission in Polish airspace  honing interoperability tactics, techniques and procedures. Photo courtesy Italian Air Force.

Besides conducting NATO Air Policing, the pilots also maintain their flying skills and conduct aerial combat drills. Photo courtesy Italian Air Force.

Since February 2024, the Italian Eurofighters flew routine sorties among others to intercept and identify Russian military aircraft flying near NATO territory. Photo courtesy Italian Air Force.

An Italian pilot checks the environment inside the cockpit of his Eurofighter during a training flight. Photo courtesy Italian Air Force.
“In the early afternoon of the same day, a training sortie of two of our Eurofighters was converted into an alert mission, the second of the day and the third of the week,” said Colonel Gianluigi Colucci commander of the Italian Task Force Air deployed to Malbork under NATO auspices. “Our jets responded to the alert demonstrating the detachment’s high readiness posture and availability to preserve the integrity of NATO airspace. We accomplished these missions - which were essentially routine events - successfully and professionally,” he added and commended the collaboration between the pilots and specialists of the Polish and Italian Air Forces and control centres.

Italy has been deployed to execute NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission at Malbork since September 2023. Initially with an F-35 detachment and – since February 2024 with Eurofighters. During their deployment, Colonel Colucci’s team has conducted countless flight hours on Air Policing alert and training missions. They fly alongside the Polish Air Force’s MiG-29s – also stationed at Malbork – and F-16s and other Allies in the region and participate in combined and joint training activities. At present, the jets are ready to fly missions during NATO’s enhanced Vigilance Activity Neptune Strike which sees NATO controlling units operating across Europe, from the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to the Baltic Sea region, Poland and Romania.

“Our Task Force Air here at Malbork is another proof of Italy’s solid commitment to NATO,” said Colonel Colucci. “We have so far deployed our fighter fleets to all NATO Air Policing missions – at home in Italy, in Iceland, the Baltic States, over Slovenia, Albania and Montenegro – demonstrating our solidarity and staunch support to NATO’s collective defence. The presence of the Italian Eurofighters in Poland and our daily work here, embody the spirit of the Alliance - one for all, all for one,” he concluded.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on input provided by the Italian Air Force

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