Swedish Air Force pilots to train in Italy from January 2024

Swedish pilots train Italy
Italian Air Force T-346A advanced trainer aircraft.

The Swedish Armed Forces signed a 10-year agreement with the Italian Air Force on Monday regarding the training of Swedish fighter pilots. According to the agreement, pilots of the Swedish Air Force will conduct part of their training in Italy starting from January 2024. The document was signed by the Chief of Staff of the Swedish Air Force, Major General Jonas Wikman, and his Italian counterpart, General Luca Goretti.

The training will take place at the 61st Wing/Lecce-Galatina Air Base (Phase 2 and 3), and at the International Flight Training School-IFTS (Phase 4)/Decimomannu Air Base, Sardinia.

"I am happy that the agreement has now been signed and that we have the necessary conditions to get started with qualified flight training that meets the requirements of the future," said Major General Wikman.

"This is a further significant step for the safety of European skies: finding agreements and synergies between countries that share spaces and orientations is always productive. Working with Swedish colleagues will represent an opportunity for growth for both countries. This agreement also represents another fundamental piece for the IFTS project, in which the Country System is investing with trust, conviction and, above all, results. A project born thanks to the full and convinced support of the Ministry of Defense and which is also based on the profitable and proven synergy with Leonardo," said General Goretti.

The training will be carried out by the Italian Air Force with the support of Leonardo Industries. The Swedish Air Force will send flight instructors to both air bases to be trained to fly the Italian training aircraft and operate its integrated systems. Subsequently the Swedish flight instructors will serve as flight instructors at the Italian flight school. In total, over one hundred students and a dozen instructor pilots are expected to be trained.

The International Flight Training School was born from the strategic collaboration between the Air Force and Leonardo S.p.a. for the creation of an advanced flight training center intended to constitute an international point of reference in the training of military pilots starting from Phase 4 (Advanced/Lead-In to Fighter Training). The IFTS uses a modular, very versatile syllabus, based on the innovative T-346A Integrated Training System, particularly effective for training pilots for a wide range of latest generation fighters, including the F-35, the Eurofighter and the Gripen.

This Air Campus is an example of collaboration and synergy for the country system which aims to satisfy the growing demand of the Air Force and partner countries for the training of their pilots. The project will in fact make it possible to double the current training offer through the creation of a new training center distributed between the Galatina base and the Decimomannu base in Sardinia, home to the new IFTS campus. It is a complex structure capable of hosting students and technical staff, also equipped with recreational areas, canteen, sports facilities, logistics and maintenance infrastructure capable of managing a fleet of 22 T-346A aircraft. Furthermore, an entire building is dedicated to the highly advanced Ground Based Training System (GBTS), a modern training system based on latest generation simulation systems.

The Swedish Air Force has to date trained its pilots at home by flying the SK 60 (Saab 105) aircraft which is 60 years old and no longer suitable to provide adequate training for pilots destined for modern combat aircraft.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Sources: Swedish Armed Forces, Italian Air Force
Image: Italian Air Force

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