ROME --- First operational “scramble” for NATO Air Policing Mission in Montenegro, that kicked off last June. Two Italian Air Force 36th Wing Eurofighters intercepted a German aircraft which had lost radio contact with air traffic control bodies
Two Eurofighter jets belonging to the 36th Wing of the Italian Air Force, on readiness within the NATO Air Policing Mission in Montenegro, intervened from Gioia del Colle (BA) Air Base to intercept an aircraft from German TUI Fly airline – flying over Montenegro on its route to Hurghada (Egypt) – that had lost radio contact with air traffic control bodies.
The order to "scramble" came from the Torrejon (Spain) Combined Air Operation Center (CAOC), a NATO agency in charge of surveillance operations of NATO air space. CAOC coordinated its action with the Poggio Renatico Air Operations Center (COA) and the Italian Air Force bodies responsible for surveillance of the national and NATO air space.
"Scramble" is an activity which involves two fighter planes taking off immediately in order to provide security of the air space against all possible or current threats. They intercept and identify unknown aircraft violating the air space of the Alliance, or which do not provide proper identification info to air traffic control bodies.
Fighter plane ground control personnel from 22nd Radar Group-Licola provided the Eurofighter pilots all information necessary to intercept the aircraft that was going to fly through Montenegro and Albania's airspace. Italy, in cooperation with Greece, provides every-day air defence and security to the two NATO countries.
Once in the relevant area, the two interceptor aircraft identified the civilian aircraft, in compliance with Visual Identification (VId) procedures, and, having re-establish radio contact, went back to the Air Base.
The complex defence system used by the Italian Air Force to secure continued national airspace surveillance is integrated, also in peace time, with systems used by other NATO countries.