Italian Air Force exercise Circaete
Italian Air Force Eurofighter intercepts Alitalia A320.

The Circaete is an annual military exercise that involves the countries belonging to the "5+5 Initiative" and aims to test the reactivity of the national air defense surveillance and defense systems in the fight against non-military air threats and promote a coordinated use of the command and control centers, radar stations and fighter jets. The collaboration agreement, born in 2004 on a proposal from Italy, aims to promote cooperation on common problems related to security and defense between countries on both sides of the Western Mediterranean (North: France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain, South: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia).

The 2018 edition of the Circaete was organized by the Italian Air Force - this is the year of Italian presidency of the "5+5 Initiative" - ​​and is one of the activities promoted by the Italian Ministry of Defense to seek common cooperation solutions and projects in maritime surveillance, in the contribution of the armed forces to Civil Defense, search and rescue and air defense. The Circaete 2018 took place from October 16 to 18.

The surveillance and defense of the national airspace is the main task of the Italian Air Force, this activity is assured 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, through an integrated defense system with other NATO countries. The service is guaranteed from the ground by two Radar Groups based in Poggio Renatico and Licola, and from the sky by the 4th Wing, the 36th Wing and the 37th Wing, all equipped with Eurofighter aircraft. The Italian Air Force is also strongly involved in the Air Policing mission abroad in support of countries without air defense: Albania from 2009, Slovenia from 2004 (together with Greece and Hungary), and Montenegro from last June (Montenegro has recently entered the Atlantic Alliance). It also contributes to the air defense of the Baltic countries, Bulgaria and Iceland.

Today the defense of the skies is a priority mission, as demonstrated by the hijacking of the Libyan Afriqiyah Airways A320 on December 23, 2016 and the Ethiopian Airlines B767 on February 17, 2017.


A Falcon 900 Easy of the Italian Air Force 31st Wing has simulated the "renegade" role, flying suspiciously. Radar surveillance centers of the countries included in the aircraft's route, as well as pilots and fighter jets assigned to the QRA Squadrons, intervened in a rapid and coordinated way to intercept and conduct the threat outside the national airspace or force it to land, according to the indications received from the land and following the established protocols.

The phase of the exercise conducted in the Italian airspace was managed by the Air Operation Center of the Air Operations Command of Poggio Renatico, Ferrara, it is the unit of the Italian Air Force that ensures 24 hours a day the surveillance of national airspace and gives immediate take-off orders to combat aircraft. The pilots and the Typhoons belonging to the three Italian AF QRA Fighter Squadrons took off in a few minutes from the order of "scramble", to intercept and escort outside the national borders the "renegade", ensuring continuity in the operation through a "relay" with the aircraft of the French Air Force and the Tunisian Air Force.


During the exercise, a Tunisian F-5 aircraft crashed into Tunisian waters. The pilot was safely recovered from a Tunisian UH-60 helicopter. The Italian Air Force participated in the rescue operations with a P72-A belonging to the 41st Wing of Sigonella, Sicily, and an HH-212 helicopter belongig to the 80th SAR Squadron of Decimomannu, Sardinia.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Images: Italian Air Force

No comments

All comments related to the contents of our articles are welcome. It is not allowed to post promotional messages, links to external sites, or references to activities not related to this blog.

Powered by Blogger.