Italian Air Force makes major contribution to NATO deterrence and defence in Baltic region

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

Italy supports NATO's Air Policing in Baltic Sea region with two Air Task Forces. While the Italian Eurofighter detachment leading NATO’s Baltic Air Policing out of Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, is ready to redeploy after four months at the end of November, the Italian F-35 detachment has returned to Malbork Air Base, Poland, after a brief hiatus to continue support for Alliance deterrence and defence activites.

 

During their four-month deployment to Lithuania, the four Italian Air Force Eurofighters of Air Task Force Air 4th Wing “Baltic Horse III” logged 800 flight hours safeguarding the airspace on the shores of the Baltic Sea. This number includes more than 30 alert scrambles during which the Italian pilots intercepted almost 60 Russian aircraft flying close to NATO territory. A large number of flight hours has also been used to accomplish critical training for pilots and air traffic controllers and practicing quick reaction drills with Allies and Partners in the region.

 

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Meanwhile, the Italian Air Force – after a hiatus of several weeks – redeployed four F-35 jets of Task Force Air – 32nd Wing to Malbork, Poland, flying enhanced Air Policing missions in support of NATO collective deterrence and defence. At Malbork, the Italian fifth-generation fighters are preparing to achieve full operational capacity in the next few days and will continue their mission in Poland until next March. When they redeploy to their home bases at Amendola and Ghedi, Italy is currently scheduled to deploy Eurofighters to continue the mission.

 

Italy supports NATO's Air Policing in Baltic Sea region with two Air Task Forces. While the Italian Eurofighter detachment leading NATO’s Baltic Air Policing out of Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, is ready to redeploy after four months at the end of November, the Italian F-35 detachment has returned to Malbork Air Base, Poland, after a brief hiatus to continue support for Alliance deterrence and defence activites.
Italy deployed its F-35 fighters to Malbork from September to early November 2023. On November 27, the fifth-generation
jets touched down for another three months under NATO orders. Photo courtesy Italian Air Force.

 

“Italy’s commitment within the Alliance continues with this new rotation. It makes us proud to provide our service to the community of Allied countries in order to guarantee the right security framework on the eastern flank of Europe,” said the new Commander of the Italian F-35 detachment, Colonel Antonio Vergallo. “The F-35 aircraft we deployed here constitute the most advanced weapon system available to the Air Force. In addition to carrying out the assigned Air Policing role, it represents an integrated system capable of offering invaluable opportunities for interoperability between 4th and 5th generation fighters in a multi-domain context,” he concluded.

 

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While NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission began in 2004 with the accession of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to the Alliance, enhanced Air Policing was introduced in 2014 to assure Allied populations. These enduring defensive arrangements have been further increased since February 2022 in response to Russia’s unlawful acts in Ukraine.
In the air, many Allies deployed their fourth and fifth fighters along the eastern flank staging a robust Air Policing posture which is centrally overseen by Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany. NATO added the Air Shielding mission to the collective security arrangements, which further integrates ground-based and airborne air defence systems to ensure deterrence and defence of the Allies along the eastern flank.

 

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