“Operation Lightning" operation saw four F-35 aircraft of the 32nd Stormo operate from Rivolto airport for a week
The bad weather in Austrian and German skies did not stop the "Lightning" operation, which saw four F-35A aircraft of the 13th Gruppo Volo, under the 32nd Wing based at Amendola (FG), operate for a week from Rivolto airfield (UD), home of the 2nd Wing.
Landing at the base in the Friuli region in the early afternoon of June 8, the fifth-generation aircraft of the Italian Air Force were able to carry out the planned activity thanks to the support of the personnel of the 2nd Wing and an "Advance Team" which flew in from Amendola main operating base for the direct management of the airport areas dedicated to risk management.
The training activity saw the pilots of the 13th Group risk themselves for the first time on an Italian operational base to practice both on the "Polygon" exercise range in Bann, Germany, and against the SPADA air-defense missile system operated by the Missile Group of the 2nd Wing.
The F-35As of the 13th Group, taking off from Rivolto and flying over Austria and Germany to reach the exercise range where they could carry out the planned training activity, averaged six sorties a day, and generated important training returns.
The activity, aimed at refining the coordination skills for the conduct of complex operations such as Operation Lightning, proved to be extremely profitable both for the pilots of the 32nd Wing, and for the SPADA operators of the 2nd Wing, as well as for the operational and logistic support staff of the two Italian Air Force units (about 70 men and women) who effectively operated jointly and synergistically.
The exercise, which attained all of its objectives, represented an important step towards the Initial Operational Capability of the new weapon system. It ended on June 15 with the return to Amendola of the personnel and assets of the 32nd Stormo.
For the 13th Group, this activity had a particular meaning from a historical point of view. In fact, after more than half a century, the Group has had the opportunity to return to an airport where, under the flag of the 2nd Wing, it had operated with several aircraft until the 1950s.
The 2nd Wing is part of the Italian Air Force’s Combat Forces Command, based in Milan; in addition to providing daily support to the activities of the 313st "Frecce Tricolori" Aerobatic Training Group, it is the operational Department identified as the Armed Forces’ missile center, responsible for training and maintaining the operational readiness of the personnel and vehicles of the Air Force’s "SPADA" air-defense missile batteries.