Italian Air Force F-35 fleet hits 10000 flight hours

The F-35A and F-35B aircraft assigned to the 13° Gruppo Volo/ 32° Stormo have reached this major milestone after just over five years of service

Italian F35 10000 flight hours
Italian Air Force F-35A and F-35B jets line up for an Elewant Walk to celebrate the type's major milestone of 10,000 flight hours.

The Italian Air Force has set many records with the F-35. It was the first armed force to introduce the Lightning II to an operational unit outside the United States. The first F-35 landed at the Amendola Air Base, home of the 32° Stormo (32nd Wing), on 12 December 2016 marking the beginning of the activity of the Fifth Generation multirole aircraft in Italy and in Europe. Today, just 5 years later, the ITAF F-35 fleet has reached the major milestone of 10,000 flight hours.

In the last 2 years, the F-35s assigned to the 32nd Wing have incessantly participated in national and international activities in order to project air power at 360 degrees on multiple continents: from the Baltics to the US and Middle Eastern deserts, from Iceland to the Aegean, up to to participate in several international aerospace and defense exhibitions.

Among the main exercises attended by the ITAF stealth fighters are the Perfect Storm which aimed at the integration of the Fourth and Fifth Generation platforms, the Astral Knight 21 which aimed to enhance coordination and interoperability between different air forces and the Falcon Strike 21 which was designed ad hoc for Fifth Generation platforms and was highly appreciated by all participating nations.

Italian F35 10000 flight hours

In addition, the F-35B took part in numerous Air Expeditionary exercises on the Italian island of Pantelleria as well as joint training with the Italian Navy F-35Bs aboard the aircraft carrier ITS Cavour and with the USMC F-35Bs aboard the British aircraft carrier HMC Queen Elizabeth.

The ITAF F-35Bs have recently also practiced in Iceland as the first deployment of the STOVL (Short Take Off and Vertical Landing) variant in remote areas and semi-non-permissive environments with harsh climates.

The 32nd Wing, which has been contributing to the national Air Defense since March 2018, has also started participating in the NATO QRA service in defense of the eastern flank of Europe since the end of January 2022, as part of the process aimed at achieving Full Operational Capability (FOC).

Italian F35 10000 flight hours

Italian F35 10000 flight hours

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Images: Italian Air Force

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