Tag: Eurofighter Typhoon

CompletePilot

Four Italian Air Force Typhoons Perform Opening Flyover At The First Ever Tuscan F1 Grand Prix at Mugello

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Four Italian Air Force Typhoons Perform Opening Flyover At The First Ever Tuscan F1 Grand Prix at Mugello
Two Typhoons perform a low pass over the starting grid of the Tuscan F1 GP on Sept. 13, 2020. (Image credit: ItAF image/edit TheAviationist)

On Sept. 13, 2020, four Eurofighter Typhoon jets, two belonging to the 4° Stormo (Wing), based at Grosseto Air Base, and two belonging to the 36° Stormo, from Gioia del Colle, performed a flyover at the first ever Formula 1 race hosted by the Ferrari-owned track, at Mugello, near Florence, in central Italy.

The four jets literally rocked the starting grid with a formation pass, right after the national anthem, followed by a couple of cool, noisy low passes in pairs.

Although the flyovers in Italy are traditionally carried out by the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian Air Force aerobatic display team, today’s mission was carried out by the F-2000As (as the Typhoons are designated in Italy) to celebrate the 1000th Formula 1 race of the Scuderia Ferrari: in fact, both the Eurofighters and the famous Italian racing team’s cars sport the worldwide known “Prancing Horse”, a symbol inherited from the Italian WWI ace Francesco Baracca.

Mugello Flyover - Four Italian Air Force Typhoons Perform Opening Flyover At The First Ever Tuscan F1 Grand Prix at Mugello
Four Typhoons in diamond formation perform the flyover at Mugello GP. (Image credit: ItAF)

The red cars from Maranello and the Italian Air Force jets have always been intrinsically linked by their use of the Prancing Horse emblem: for instance, the first Eurofighter wearing the markings of the 4° Stormo made its first public appearance at Grosseto on Dec. 11, 2003, during a famous event that also featured the race between a Eurofighter (the aircraft serialled MM X614 IPA2 operating with the Alenia flight team at the Turin-Caselle facility, piloted by the Italian astronaut and Alenia test pilot Maurizio Cheli) and the Ferrari F2003-GA piloted by Michael Schumacher.

Back to today’s Grand Prix, it’s also worth of remark that, in order to take part in the flyover at Mugello at 14.55LT, two F-2000s flew from Gioia del Colle, in southeastern Italy, to Grosseto, in the central part of the country, in the morning on Sunday Sept. 13: during the ferry flight, the two aircraft were “diverted” to intercept and perform a VID (Visual IDentification) on an ultralight aircraft that had lost radio contact with the civilian Air Traffic Control (a typical “COMLOSS” mission – from Communication Loss). The two Typhoons continued their flight to Grosseto after the “zombie” (as the intercepted aircraft is dubbed in the fighter pilot “lingo”) was identified and re-established the radio contact with the ATC agencies.

Typhoon ItAF 36 Stormo - Four Italian Air Force Typhoons Perform Opening Flyover At The First Ever Tuscan F1 Grand Prix at Mugello
Two F-2000A of the 36° Stormo. Its child units are the 10° and 12° Gruppo. (Image credit: ItAF)

Since Sept. 8, 2020, four Eurofighters from the 36°, 4° and 37° Stormo are deployed to Šiauliai, Lithunia, to support NATO Baltic Air Policing mission: the Typhoons of the Task Force Air “Baltic Thunder” performed their first A-Scramble (Alert-Scramble) to intercept a Russian Il-20M ELINT aircraft on Sept. 11.

Last week, on Sunday Sept. 6, 2020, the Monza F1 GP was opened by the Frecce Tricolori:

As happened today, also on Sunday Sept. 6, the Italian Typhoons were scrambled to intercept an aircraft following a COMLOSS event:

The Italian Typhoons Supporting NATO Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania Intercept A Russian Il-20M ELINT Aircraft

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - The Italian Typhoons Supporting NATO Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania Intercept A Russian Il-20M ELINT Aircraft
An Italian Air Force F-2000 escorts a Russian Il-20M. (Image credit: Italian MOD)

The Italian Air Force F-2000, currently deployed to Šiauliai, Lithunia, to support NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, have carried out the first alert scramble: the Italian Typhoons were launched to identify a Russian Il-20M “Coot-A” aircraft on Sept. 11, 2020.

While these missions occur quite frequently in the Baltic region, it’s worth of remark that the Italian MOD (Ministry Of Defense), unlike what has happened in all the previous BAP rotations carried out by the Italian Air Force jets, this time has released an image of the Russian aircraft that caused the activation of the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) cell.

The “zombie” (as an unidentified aircraft that triggers a QRA launch is called in the interceptors lingo), is particularly interesting. The Il-20M is an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) platform: it is equipped with a wide array of antennas, IR (Infrared) and Optical sensors, a SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) and satellite communication equipment for real-time data sharing. It can be used for intelligence gathering missions, eavesdropping the communications, detecting ground, maritime and aerial systems’ emissions and pinpointing their positions to build an Electronic Order of Battle of the NATO assets in the region.

GAF Il 20M - The Italian Typhoons Supporting NATO Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania Intercept A Russian Il-20M ELINT Aircraft
A photo, released on Sept. 10, of a Russian IL-20M intercepted by a GAF Eurofighter scrambled from Amari, Estonia. (Image credit: GAF/NATO).

As often reported here at The Aviationist, the Russian Il-20s regularly perform long-range reconnaissance missions in the Baltic region, flying in international airspace with their transponder turned off; a standard practice for almost all ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft. The missions of the Russian spyplane close to the NATO airspace in the Baltic region have also caused some concern in the past. In 2014, Russian Coot spyplanes flying close to civilian airports or congested airways were involved in two “air proximity” incidents: in March 2014, a SAS Boeing 737 with 132 people almost collided with an Il-20 Coot, about 50 miles to the southwest of Malmö, Sweden; in December 2014, a Canadair CRJ-200 from Cimber Airlines was involved in a near collision with an Il-20 halfway between Ystad, Sweden and Sassnitz, Germany.

Since Sept. 1, 2020, the Italian Air Force has taken the lead of the NATO BAP mission. On Sept. 8, the Task Force Air “Baltic Thunder” and its four 4x F-2000A Typhoons, belonging to the 4°, 36° and 37° Stormo (Wing), have achieved the FOC (Full Operational Capability), providing H24 QRA duties in the Baltic. Also deployed in the region, as “augmentees” supporting the BAP mission from Amari, Estonia, are the German Air Force Eurofighters. The German detachment carried out its first scramble of the current rotation on Sept. 10, 2020, to intercept an Il-20M (perhaps, the same aircraft intercepted also by the Italians).

BAP FOC 1 - The Italian Typhoons Supporting NATO Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania Intercept A Russian Il-20M ELINT Aircraft
One of the four F-2000A (as the Italian Typhoons are designated) taxies at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania. (Image credit: ItAF)

Italian Typhoons Intercept Slovenian PC-9Ms During Air Policing Training Mission Over Slovenia

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Italian Typhoons Intercept Slovenian PC-9Ms During Air Policing Training Mission Over Slovenia
An Italian Air Force F-2000 Typhoon escorts a Slovenian PC-9M during an air policing exercise on Jul. 6, 2020. (All images: Miro Majcen)

Last week, on Jul. 6, 2020, two Eurofighter Typhoon jets, belonging to the 4° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) based at Grosseto AB, were scrambled to carry out an intercept of “unknown” aircraft flying inside the Slovenian airspace. The “zombies” (as the unidentified aircraft are dubbed in the fighter pilot’s lingo) turned out to be two Slovenian PC-9M Swifts, playing the renegade/intruder role in an exercise that was conducted to validate the NATO procedures used for Interim Air Policing missions.

In fact, since Slovenia joined NATO in 2004, the Italian F-2000s (as the single seater Typhoons are designated in Italy), provide the Interim Air Policing for Slovenian airspace (jointly with the Hungarian Air Force since 2014): in case of need (usually, for COMLOSS events – loss of radio communication with the Air Traffic Control – or issues with the Diplomatic Clearance required to enter a sovereign airspace), the NATO CAOC (Combined Air Operation Center) in Torrejon, Spain, can activate the ItAF QRA (Quick Reaction Alert), that will scramble two armed aircraft whose mission is to intercept, identify and escort the traffic flying inside the Slovenian airspace. For this kind of missions, coordination with the local ATC agencies is required, hence the need for periodic tests.

As explained, during the latest training event, the Italians entered the Slovenian airspace and intercepted two Slovenian Air Force Pilatus PC-9M Swifts, also called Hudournik in Slovenia, ingle engine tandem-seat turboprop Light Attack Aircraft. The PC-9 can carry more than 1,000 kg of ammo including Mk82, AIM-9L missiles, gun pods, 2.75 inch unguided rockets in various combinations.

ItAF Slovenian PC 9 2 - Italian Typhoons Intercept Slovenian PC-9Ms During Air Policing Training Mission Over Slovenia
Close up image showing the F-2000 escorting the PC-9M.

Stationed at Cerklje ob Krki Airbase, about 80 km to the east of Ljubljana and belonging to the 152. Letalska eskadrilja (152. LEESK, 152nd Fixed-wing Squadron) the Pilatus are primarily used for Close Air Support (CAS) missions, protection of convoys, armed reconnaissance and also SMI (Slow Mover Intercept): one Slovenian PC-9 is also on a 15-minute readiness status at Cerklje ob Krki to carry out intercept missions on slow moving targets.

ItAF Slovenian PC 9 cockpit - Italian Typhoons Intercept Slovenian PC-9Ms During Air Policing Training Mission Over Slovenia
Inside the cockpit of a PC-9M involved in the Air Policing training mission.

Photographer Miro Majcen (@miromajcen) was aboard one of the PC-9Ms during the simulated air policing with the Italian Typhoons on Jul. 6, 2020. He took the cool shots you can find in this article along with the ones you can find on the Slovenian media outlet 24ur.com at this address, where a full report about the mission (in Slovenian language) was posted.

The PC-9s were intercepted and escorted to landing, then the Italian F-2000s headed back to Grosseto Air Base. Mission completed.

ItAF Slovenian PC 9 - Italian Typhoons Intercept Slovenian PC-9Ms During Air Policing Training Mission Over Slovenia
Another shot of the Italian Air Force F-2000 belonging to the 4° Stormo escorting a Slovenian Air Force PC-9M.

Slovenia aside, the Italian Typhoons provide IAP for Albania since 2009 (jointly with the Hellenic Air Force); for Montenegro since 2018 (jointly with the Hellenic Air Force), and regularly deploy across Europe to support NATO Air Policing (as done in Romania in 2019, Bulgaria in 2017, Lithuania, Estonia and Iceland, where the F-35s are currently stationed).

H/T to our reader and friend Aljoša Jarc for the heads-up!

CompletePilot
%d bloggers like this: