The F-35As of the Italian Air Force will carry out Air Police tasks over the Baltic skies

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

Last September the Italian Air Force deployed 4 fighters Typhoon in Šiauliai, Lithuania, as part of NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission. In this period of time, the Italian component has accrued about 900 hours of flight, making 40 Scramble - mostly against Russian aircraft - over the skies of the Baltics.

On 30 April the Italian mission, called Baltic Thunder, handed over to a Spanish detachment also equipped with 4 aircraft Typhoon.

However, the Air Force will remain in the Baltic as it took over from the Luftwaffe in Amari, Estonia, which had a 6-based device. Typhoon. Instead, Italy will deploy 4 F-35s from Amendola's 32nd wing.

For the first time the F-35As will carry out missions of Air Policing for the benefit of the Baltic States.

"This first deployment of fifth generation aircraft shows how NATO air forces are adapting to the mission (Baltic Air Policing, NdA) using increasingly advanced technologies," NATO's Allied Air Command (AAC) said.

Already in September 2019, as part of the mission Icelandic Air Policing, the Air Force had deployed six F-35As in Keflavik, Iceland, to ensure the protection of Icelandic airspace. With this deployment, the Air Force thus became the first air force to deploy F-35As on a NATO mission.

For this type of mission, the Italian F-35As will use radar equipment and RCS (Radar Cross Section) amplifiers, as our aircraft do not have the capabilities stealth of the F-35 USA and in any case, for the activities of Air Policing, would be of no use. 

For the record, this isn't the first time F-35As have flown over Estonian skies. In 2017, the fighters of the 34th fighter squadron USAF have made a brief visit to Amari, as part of a European presentation "tour" of the aircraft.

Photo: Aeronautica Militare