Four Italian Air Force Eurofighters have been deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base since December 2022, providing NATO enhanced Air Policing alongside the Romanian Air Force showcasing Alliance solidarity and cohesion.
“Operating from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base on the shores of the Black Sea, in a complex geo-political context at a distance of only 80 km from the southern border of the Odessa district in Ukraine and 70 miles from the “Temporary Danger Area” were Russia carries out operations over Ukraine, is undoubtedly a task of great responsibility, but also full of satisfaction, both from a professional and a personal point of view,” said Colonel Antonino Massara, Commander of the Italian Air Force detachment executing NATO’s enhanced Air Policing duties in Romania.
Since the Italian Task Force Air – Romania “Gladiator” jets arrived in Romania, they conducted four alert scrambles executing Combat Air Patrol establishing a holding pattern enabling the Eurofighters to respond even faster in case of potential aggression against NATO territory. They have shared the responsibility of safeguarding the regional airspace with the Romanian Air Force F-16 fighters. This close collaboration of the two Allies has become key especially since Romania in turn deployed four of their jets to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing flying out of Siauliai, Lithuania.
“This special Air Policing mission the Alliance has assigned to Italy under the overall concept of Deterrence and Defence requires the employment of a pair of Eurofighter Typhoons as a Quick Reaction Alert force,” Colonel Massara explained. “While they must be ready to launch within minutes in a purely defensive Air Policing role 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, our jets are also available to participate in a continuous succession of exercises with NATO Allies, in cooperation with other air and ground assets in support of the deterrence function,” he added.
One highlight for TFA-R “Gladiator” has been the participation in the German-led multinational air exercise Air Defender 23 on June 12 and 13. Two of the force’s Eurofighters in the air-to-ground configuration flew Close Air Support missions at Cincu Range in coordination with a Dutch-led international team of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers. The Eurofighter F-2000As carried Laser Designator PODs and inert laser armament and accomplished their mission in several training scenarios (Troops in Contact, Dynamic Targeting, Danger Close) with GBU-16 bombs and simulated on-board gun attacks.
“The training objectives for the two days of the exercise were fully achieved,” said Colonel Massara. “I am proud of the outstanding contribution made by the women and men of the TFA-R and the entire Italian Air Force in support of both NATO Air Policing and our collaboration with our Allies during combined training. We have seen excellent examples of cooperation and support from our Romanian hosts during our deployment,” he added.
“We are fully aware that the complexity of the tactical scenario along the Black Sea shores leaves no room for errors, which could be considered provocative,” Colonel Massara concluded. “We are accomplishing this mission because the quality of the work of the entire Task Force rests on solid foundations and intense, specific and targeted training; it is guaranteed by the professionalism of the women and men of the Air Force,” he said.
(Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office)