July 12, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - There was a double scramble by Italian F-16s yesterday evening. An Iranian Foxtrot 100 took off from France for Greece, authorised to travel north of the Alps. The aircraft however, veered off course around Abenga.
Italian Air Force F-16A ADF #MM7239 on the 5°Stormo flightline at Cervia AB on December 16th, 2003 [Photo by Abati]
The air force operating room in Poggio Renatico alerted the 5th Cervia Flight. Shortly before a 23rd gruppo F-16 took off the aircraft resumed the correct route and the mission was called off.
But a minute later a German Airbus 310 flying north east of Corsica, lost contact with ground control. The Cervia F-16 took off again, but once communications were re-established a few minutes later it returned once more to base.
Over the last six months the air force has taken off 20 times on such missions, as opposed to 28 in the whole of 2004. The air force protects air space via a system of aircraft, radar and missile systems coordinated by Poggio Renatico Operational Command. In case of unidentified activity on radar, there is an immediate scramble of aircraft, which head to the suspect aeroplane to ascertain its identity.