Italian F-35s and Eurofighters escorted two US B-52s while returning from a Black Sea mission over Italy

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A B-52H is escorted by two F-35s and two F-2000s over Italy. (Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Zachary Wrigh)

The American bombers were integrated with the Italian Air Force’s F-35 and Eurofighters and the Greek Air Force’s F-16 during their long mission in Romania and Bulgaria.

On March 7, 2022, two US B-52 Stratofortress bombers deployed to a Bomber Task Force 22-2 operation based at RAF Fairford, UK, performed another interesting mission in the Black Sea region. As GORGON11 and 12, the two BUFFs, who have launched several sorties since being based in the UK, flew south-east at block levels 270-280 and entered Romanian airspace, where they conducted air-land integration exercises with Romanian JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers ).

The presence of the two strategic bombers over Eastern Europe not far from the border with Ukraine, where they were already operating most likely for deterrence purposes after the Russian invasion, did not go unnoticed: one of the B-52s sent its position via ADS-B, enabling the track on flight tracking websites including the popular Flightradar24.com.

The trail of GORGON12 (Image credit: Screenshot via Flightradar24.com)

After operating in Romanian airspace, the B-52s flew to Bulgaria where they circled over a stretch before heading towards Greece.

As they passed through the FIR (Flight Information Region) of Athinai (Athens), the B-52s were escorted by HAF F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Then the bombers flew to Italy. During their crossing of Italian airspace, the Stratofortresses were intercepted by two F-35A Lightning II aircraft of the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 32° Stormo (Wing) of Amendola Air Base and by two Eurofighter Typhoon of the 132° Gruppo with the 51° Stormo from Istrana AB. The rather unusual formation provided a photographer aboard one of the B-52’s with the opportunity to snap some cool shots of the B-52 with the Italian Air Force escort pack.

Another dramatic shot of the B-52 being escorted by the ItAF fighters. (Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Zachary Wrigh)

Obviously, this was not the first time a B-52 had crossed Italian airspace escorted by Italian Eurofighter or F-35 jets; However, the parties involved have rarely released photos as cool as those released by NATO Allied Air Command on March 9, 2022, along with a press release with some details about the joint activity.

After crossing the Italian peninsula, the bombers entered French airspace from where they flew to their final destination, RAF Fairford.

One of the B-52s is approaching the Alps. (Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Zachary Wrigh)

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the founder and editor of The Aviationist, one of the world’s best-known and most-read military aviation blogs. Since 1996 he has written for major worldwide magazines including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft and many others on aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyber warfare. He has reported from the US, Europe, Australia and Syria and has flown several fighter jets with various air forces. He is a former 2nd Lieutenant in the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many others.

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