Two Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jets were scrambled to intercept Russian Tu-142 long-range reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft heading for the Iceland coastline, according to NATO Allied Air Command.
The two Eurofighter Typhoon fighters of the Italian Air Force were raised in alarm by the Keflavik airfield in Iceland due to two Russian anti-submarine aircraft Tu-142 seen on the country’s eastern border.
“On 18 March, two Aeronautica Militare Eurofighters currently stationed in Iceland to support NATO’s Air Policing operations were launched to meet two Russian Tu-142 planes flying in international airspace in the vicinity of Icelandic borders,” said in a statement.
The Tupolev Tu-142 is a Russian maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft derived from the Tu-95 turboprop strategic bomber. A specialised communications variant designated Tu-142MR was tasked with long-range communications duties with Soviet ballistic missile submarines. The Tu-142 was designed by the Tupolev design bureau, and manufactured by the Kuibyshev Aviation and Taganrog Machinery Plants from 1968 to 1994.
The Russian military has shown a repeated pattern of buzzing close to or within Icelandic airspace, often without warning or without communicating with Icelandic authorities ahead of time. On one occasion, they also flew close to an Icelandic passenger plane.
Foreign Affairs Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson stated that the Italian aircraft’s response was fully in line with NATO’s working regulations.
Gudlaugur says the incident “is yet another example of the importance of airspace surveillance and air policing in Iceland.”
The Italian intercept was the first since they arrived in Iceland in early March showcasing the importance of the mission for the Ally in the High North.
Within NATO air patrol mission over Iceland, Italian pilots provide intercept capabilities and train together with the Icelandic Coast Guard and the NATO Control and Reporting Centre. The Italian jets will complement the air surveillance which Iceland executes with its four remote radar and communication sites.