ITAF F-35As train together with RAF F-35Bs to acquire know-how on STOVL variant

Italian RAF F35 joint training
ItAF F35As train together with RAF F35Bs.

On July 22, 2020, three Italian Air Force F-35A stealth fighters deployed at Marham Air Base, UK, to conduct a joint training activity with the Royal Air Force (RAF). Italian aircraft arrived in the UK directly from Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, where they operated in the previous two months under the NATO Air Policing mission.

After fulfilling the task of "Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet Iceland's Peacetime Preparedness Needs" (ASIC-IPPN), some Italian pilots and technicians took part in an international cooperation activity aimed at exchanging information and training on the STOVL (Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing) variant of the F-35 as well as for optimizing the interoperability between the 4th and 5th generation systems.

Operating from Marham, the ITAF F-35As belonging to the 32nd Wing/Amendola AFB carried out an Offensive Counter Air (OCA) mission together with the RAF F-35B and USAF F-15C and F-15E fighters in a modern and complex aerial scenario. The mission involved both Surface to Air Missiles (SAM) systems, to protect the Target, and aircraft with the Red Air role (Aggressor). The data link systems of the F-35 together with common and shared tactics were decisive to allow full 5th generation interoperability and integration between 4th and 5th generation combat aircraft.

Despite the short duration of the exercise, the pilots and maintainers were able to increase their know-how and discuss the activities carried out.

The commanders of the two squadrons, the ITAF XIII and the RAF 617 (deputy for the conversion of the UK pilots destined for the F-35 STOVL), shared the importance and added value that these meetings bring to the operational growth of their staff. ITAF will introduce the B-variant of the F-35 over the next few years.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Images: Italian Air Force

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