Our readers have doubts about the assignment of the JSF to the Italian Navy, analysts would assign all the modern fighters to the Italian Air Force.

Italian Navy Marina Militare F-35B
Italian F-35B

Usually we don't publish news that analyze the choices of the armed forces, but considering the doubts expressed by our readers on the assignment of Italian F-35s, we have decided to write about this topic. Although they support the Italian F-35 program, they have doubts about the allocation of 15 F-35Bs to the Italian Navy rather than providing more support to the Italian Air Force. Many analysts have recently published about this topic and we refer to their considerations.

In recent years the Navy has used its units mainly for the surveillance of immigration to southern Italy and the transport of humanitarian aid. These tasks are part of its dual-use ability, meaning that it can perform both military and civil tasks. Today the military role of the Navy is limited to the defense of the seas by smugglers and traffickers, the era of crisis stabilization missions in foreign countries is over. Today the main role of the Navy is to guarantee the free use of the sea, to protect the global economy, especially the Italian one, which depends to a large extent on maritime traffic.

Even when in the past the Navy took part in war conflicts, Harrier aircraft often operated directly from the Grottaglie Air Base, rather than from the flight deck of the italian aircraft carrier. Where necessary, these missions may be covered by Air Force aircraft.

The capabilities of the F-35 are much higher than the Navy's needs (fleet defense), but it is the only aircraft in the world capable of operating from the flight deck of ships that do not have launching/recovering systems. This forced choice involves costs higher than necessary. In addition, the Cavour carrier needed expensive maintenance work such as new heat resistant deck treatments to be able to embark the new F-35B fighter jet.

Italy has bought 90 F-35s: 75 for the Air Force and 15 for the Navy. The Air Force will have to operate the same missions with a fleet of less than half of planes in the future. Currently it has about 200 aircraft (Tornado + AMX) to cover the reconnaissance/SEAD/bomber roles.

The Air Force has already closed several Squadrons/Bases considering that the number of aircraft will be reduced in the future. The limited number of fighters will probably lead to the decommissioning of the SEAD Squadron. This prestigious task is currently assigned to the Tornado ECR belonging to the 155th Squadron based on Ghedi AB.

The Spanish Navy is in the same situation as the Italian Navy and it has decided not to buy the F-35B: it intends to maintain in the future an helicopter fleet without fixed-wing aircraft.

We don't want to make judgments about it, we don't know who is right, we let you decide which one should have been the best choice...



  1. Well... Actually, Spain has not decided yet. The process is open.

    1. Spain currently looks at F35 to replace Harrier and Hornet aircraft, but there is a limited defense budget. Surely it will give precedence to Hornet rather than Harrier.

  2. As usual, Spain will do what France and Germany will decide for her.


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