The TFA 32nd Wing formed by F35A aircraft has reached Full Operational Capability (FOC) and will guarantee the airspace surveillance service in Iceland for three weeks as part of NATO Air Policing operations. The "Northern Lightning" operation was thus officially started.
The important goal achieved, which sees Italy being the first Alliance country to use F-35 assets in operation, was formalized by a ceremony attended by the Chief of General Defense Staff Enzo Vecciarelli accompanied by the Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, Air Force General Alberto Rosso.
"Today, with the achievement of Full Operational Capability by the Air 32nd Wing Task Force - the words of General Vecciarelli - we renew our commitment to actively contribute to collective defense. Our country has decided to contribute to the activities of Air Policing with the most advanced resources, the F-35 A of the Air Force Mlitare, which for the first time under the command and control of the Allied Air Command, will guarantee the safety of the airspace in an important strategic portion of the Euro-Atlantic region ”.
The ceremony ended with a solemn flag-raising ceremony, where the NATO banner was hoisted, handed over to the TFA Commander, by the Deputy Commander of the Allied Air Command (AIRCOM), the Lieutenant General Pascal Delerce who pointed out that “For the first time a Fifth-generation fighters, the F-35, will be used by NATO to safeguard the Alliance's airspace in an Air Policing operation. This event represents a major step towards the integration of modern combat aircraft into allied missions, demonstrating the Alliance's ability to look to the future, integrating new technologies ".
The mission of the TFA 32nd Wing aims to preserve the integrity of NATO's airspace, strengthening the surveillance activity of the skies over Iceland which does not have capacity and structures for autonomous air defense.
The Italian Air Force participates in the Air Policing operation in Iceland with six F-35A aircraft. Pilots, Air Defense controllers, technical, logistic and Force Protection personnel will ensure the Icelandic airspace surveillance service for three weeks, leading, in the meantime, joint training activity with the staff of the Icelandic Coast Guard.
The activity of Air Policing is conducted since the time of peace and consists in the continuous surveillance of the integrity of NATO airspace as well as in the identification of its possible violations of integrity, before which appropriate action must be taken, such as, for example, the rapid take-off of interceptor fighter aircraft, which in technical terms is called scramble.
The Air Policing is carried out within the responsibility area of the Allied Command of NATO (Allied Command Operation - ACO) based in Brussels and is coordinated by the Air Command (AIRCOM) of Ramstein (GER).