Italian Air Force 51st Wing resumes air defense role

Italian 51 Wing air defense Eurofighter
Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon belonging to 51st Wing takes off for air defense mission.

April 2, 2020 - Twenty-one years after the last scramble, the alarm will sound again at the 51st Wing/Istrana AFB of the Italian Air Force. Today, however, the F-104 Starfighter will no longer take off, its role has been taken over by the modern Eurofighter Typhoon.

The 51st Wing is currently in the midst of a transformation process that will be completed with the withdrawal of the AMX reconnaissance and ground attack aircraft and the entry into service of the Eurofighter.

During this transition, the 132nd Flight Group/51st Wing is ensuring the operation of two flight lines at the same time: the Eurofighter one, to take care of the national air defense, and the AMX one, to conduct tactical reconnaissance, Close Air Support (CAS) and ground attack missions.

This process began in 2017 with the deployment at Istrana of a pair of Eurofighters and the activation of an air defense unit secured in rotation by aircraft belonging to the 4th Wing, 36th Wing and 37th Wing.

In 2019, following the activation of the maintenance bays of the Eurofighter line - specific work areas equipped for technical inspections - the 51st Wing reached full maintenance capacity, allowing the staff of the Gruppo Efficienza Aeromobili (GEA) at Istrana to take over the other Eurofighter Units in the aircraft maintenance cycle.

The Commander of the Combat Forces, General of Air Division Francesco Vestito, who spoke on the occasion of the first alarm service carried out by the 51st Wing, expressed his appreciation for the important milestone achieved. "The effort made by the Wing, especially in this period of serious emergency for the country, is even more relevant because it testifies to the passion, motivation and sense of duty that have always characterized the daily work of the Air Force personnel," Vestito said.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Images: Italian Air Force

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