On Tuesday 2 July, the 32nd Wing based at Amendola (Foggia) hosted the F-35s of the United States and United Kingdom air forces for joint training activities with the latest generation of Air Force fighters.
The training activity, split into two stages, involved two Italian F-35A aircraft during the morning along with a pair of F-35Bs from the 617th Fighter Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF), which took off from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus; in the afternoon, four Italian F-35A aircraft took part in a complex exercise that saw them operate with four F-35As from the 421th Fighter Squadron of the U.S. Air Force from Spangdahlem, Germany, together with other Air Force assets including Eurofighter F-2000A, AMX, T-346A and KC-767 tankers.
Colonel Marzinotto, Commander of the 32nd Wing, highlighted how the activity represented "an important opportunity to enhance interoperability between the three countries involved: the interaction between Air Forces using the same fifth-generation aircraft allows sharing of training and operational experiences that guarantee an exceptional added value that will consolidate and strengthen relationships in the Atlantic Alliance.”
At the conclusion of the morning session, Colonel Butcher, of the Royal Air Force’s 617th Fighter Squadron, expressed his satisfaction "for this first redeployment in Italy, which allowed to again demonstrate and test the capabilities of the F-35 system."
"Today was further evidence of the high operational capabilities that the F-35s of our European allies have demonstrated:" These are the words of Lt. Col. pilot "Ali" of the 421st Fighter Squadron on the sidelines of the joint training event. "The F-35 is a technologically advanced and networked system that allows strengthening NATO's potential in managing the command and control of the Alliance's airpower."
Major De Guida, Commander of the 32nd Wing’s 13th Group (squadron), expressed his "enthusiasm for having had the opportunity to participate in a mission so complex that it would have been impossible to carry out with any other airplane and which, instead, was conducted with extreme simplicity thanks to the high level of maturity of the aircraft, which cannot be considered just a machine but an articulated system integrated in the F-35 community ”.
From a strategic point of view, moreover, the use of the F-35 system through the sharing of logistics and training infrastructures for personnel, allows a significant optimization of resources.
All this is part of the fundamental concept of Advanced Logistic Support, an advanced aircraft management system that aims to guarantee maximum availability in terms of efficiency and usage rate, simplifying maintenance processes. The aircraft interfaces with the integrated logistics IT system, called ALIS (Autonomic Logistic Information System), which allows the handling of requests, movements and distribution of spare parts on a global scale.
The 32nd Wing based in Amendola (Foggia) is one of the flight departments of the Italian Air Force, indirectly subordinated to the Air Command in Rome through the Combat Forces Command of Milan.
First European unit to acquire F-35 aircraft, the wing also carries out operational, training and technical activities for Predator remotely piloted aircraft, in order to acquire and maintain the capacity to carry out national and coalition ISTAR operations.
Furthermore, it provides and completes, with the MB-339 aircraft, the training of RPA pilots in order to ensure an adequate level of training on traditionally piloted aircraft.
Furthermore, since March 2018, the F-35 aircraft of Amendola’s 32nd Wing have also been integrated into the national air defense network, thereby contributing specific operational capabilities and latest-generation technology to defend the Italian skies.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The above release does not provide any details to explain the “mission so complex that it would have been impossible to carry out with any other airplane” described by one pilot.
Similarly hyperbolic statements are often used by its proponents to describe the F-35, but details are never forthcoming, as they are conveniently classified.
We will ask the Italian Air Force for details, and post them when, and if, they become available.)