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 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.
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.
At this time, no images of the intercept have been released. The image you see on the cover is from a 2021 scramble.
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.
(Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on information provided by Italian Task Force Air-32nd Wing)