Italian Eurofighter and T-346A jets conduct joint training with F-35 fighters from three nations

USAF RAF F-35 Amendola Italy
Italian Eurofighters and F-35A train together.

The United Kingdom and the United States have deployed F-35 aircraft at Amendola Air Base, Southern Italy, to conduct joint training with the Italian Air Force's fourth and fifth generation fighters on 2 July.

The training was divided into two phases: during the morning two Italian F-35As carried out a mission together with a pair of RAF F-35Bs assigned to the 617th Fighter Squadron, coming from Akrotiri AB, Cyprus; while in the afternoon four Italian F35As took part in a complex exercise. They operated alongside four USAF F-35As assigned to the 421th Fighter Squadron (currently deployed at Spangdalhem AB, Germany) and ITAF Eurofighter, AMX, T-346A and KC-767A aircraft.

The integration between the fourth and fifth generation aircraft is today a priority for the NATO armed forces. This need was largely underlined by the Spanish Air Force Colonel AndrĂ©s Maldonado, Commandant of the Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP), during the last training course conducted in Albacete, Spain, which also included USAF F-35s.

"In order to remain aligned in an ever-changing environment it is important we look at emerging capabilities such as modern fighter aircraft. After all, six of the ten TLP member nations have or will have a fifth generation fighter capability available."

"We have identified a sound strategy towards this,” he continued saying. "We are committed to leading the integration of fourth and fifth generation and to changing whatever is required to adapt our successful programme to the modern fighter aircraft training needs. This will enhance our warfighters’ readiness. That is why my vision for the TLP is to be the reference institution for modern aircraft integration into NATO air operations at the tactical level; offering the best fighting airspace including for contested degraded operations in Southern Europe," Maldonado said.

Over the next 20 years, NATO countries' air fleets will include aircraft from the two different generations and it is important for each nation to set up techniques and methods that allow perfect integration between the different home and foreign systems. The joint activity conducted at Amendola AFB highlighted the ability to integrate fifth-generation aircraft from different countries, but also allowed the integration of Lightening IIs with fourth-generation aircraft.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source: Italian Air Force, NATO AirCom
Images: Italian Air Force

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