Here are the photos of the first interception of a Russian aircraft by an F-35 under NATO command in the Baltic States
We received the photos of the first interception of F-35s supporting the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission last month.
As previously reported, the Italian Air Force F-35, stationed in support of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission at Ãmari Air Force Base, Estonia, made its first interception on May 14, 2021.
The Lightning II jets, belonging to the 13th Gruppo (squadron) of the 32nd Stormo (Wing), from Amendola Air Force Base in southeastern Italy, were disrupted after the Combined Air Operations Center in Uedem, Germany discovered an unidentified trace had the Baltic Sea flies from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad. When taking off, the F-35s in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) approached a Russian An-12 transport aircraft that was flying in international airspace off Estonia.
Initially, no official photo of the intercepted Russian plane was released. In fact, unlike most of its other allies, Italy rarely publishes images of the ‘zombies’ (as the objectives of the interception mission are called in fighter pilot language) captured by Italian pilots during their QRA launches in support of NATO’s Enhanced Air police operations all of Europe â, this author commented at the time.
However, in response to a request we submitted immediately after the news of the interception was posted, NATO Allied Air Command eventually provided us with two images showing one of the two Italian F-35s the An-12 flying over Escorting the Baltic States: nothing special about it Be honest, as the configuration of the Lightning was standard (with RCS enhancers and no external air-to-air missile launchers) and the “Zombie” was just a “Cub” transport plane, still interesting, as they are the only photographic evidence of the first interception of an F-35 under NATO command in the Baltic for the records.
Also noteworthy are the rather distinctive wing tip vortices (similar to contrails) generated by the F-35.
The flaperon and wingtip vortices have long been discussed here at long The aviator. GAO alleged that these could affect the aircraft’s camouflage performance; others suggest that these visible “tubes of circulating air that lag behind the wing of the aircraft as they create lift” may make the aircraft more noticeable (within sight) of an enemy pilot in a WVR battle, although some Pilots have explained this they don’t matter because if you’re close enough to see the F-35’s vortices, you are likely close enough to see the jet. It’s true, although some pictures recently taken from the ground and posted online of F-35s tracking a tanker actually appear to confirm that, under certain conditions, these eddies can highlight the jet’s presence from several miles away.
The Italian F-35 in action to Estonia on April 30, 2021; On May 3, the Italian department officially took over the supplementary role in the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission from the Eurofighter department of the German Air Force and began performing QRA tasks.
The Italian F-35s will remain in Estonia for the BAP mission until August and will support âBaltic Eagle IIâ (as the mission at national level is called), which operates within Task Group Falco of Task Force Air Estonia. The F-35s will then be replaced by the Italian Typhoons, as Italy is planning to support NATO BAP in Estonia by the end of 2021.