Tag: Eurofighter Typhoon

Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s Successfully Complete Ex. ‘Gioia Falcon’ With The Italian Air Force

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s Successfully Complete Ex. ‘Gioia Falcon’ With The Italian Air Force
A F-16 of the RNLAF with a celebratory special tail takes off for a training mission during Gioia Falcon. In the corner: the patch created for the exercise. (All images credit: Author)

11 Dutch F-16s deployed to Gioia del Colle Air Base to practice operations in non-familiar areas and fly COMAO missions.

The deployed 11 of its F-16 Fighting Falcons to Gioia del Colle Air Base in Italy for a two-week joint exercise with the Italian Air Force, dubbed “Gioia Falcon”, from Nov. 12 to Nov. 26, 2021. The fighters belong to 312 Squadron “Bonzo”, which is the last RNLAF unit to operate the F-16 from Volkel Air Base.

The F-16 is slowly nearing the end of its operational life in the Netherlands, after F-16 operations ceased at Leeuwarden with 322 Squadron this summer to make room for the F-35 Lightning II and the remaining aircraft were all moved to Volkel. The latter also used host a second F-16 unit, the 313 Squadron, but this is currently in the process of being converted to the F-35. The F-16 is expected to remain in service until 2024/2025, when it is expected that the F-35 will obtain the Full Operational Capability.

We had the opportunity to visit Gioia del Colle to take photos of the flight operations and interview the aircrews during the two Media Days of the Exercise on Nov. 23 and 24.

During our visit we got to see which aircraft were deployed on the flight line, with their serials being J-005, J-014, J-062, J-063, J-136, J-197, J-509, J-512, J-515, J-644. As you can notice, these are only ten of the eleven aircraft in the detachment, as one of the F-16s reportedly suffered an engine stall during a training mission on Nov. 18 or 19 and subsequently performed a precautionary landing at Crotone airport. According to a low-resolution photo posted at the beginning of the exercise, the aircraft should be the twin-seater F-16B J-368.

One of the aircraft, J-197, sported the special tail paint which has been recently applied to celebrate the 70th anniversary of 312 Squadron. The special tail shows the crossed swords and the red lightning bolt of the unit’s insignia, as well as the writing “70 years 312 Squadron”. According to the reports, the first public appearance this F-16 with the new special paint was in early November when the aircraft was at the lead of 14 F-16s during an elephant walk at Volkel Air Base.

- Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s Successfully Complete Ex. ‘Gioia Falcon’ With The Italian Air ForceThe assets which took part in the exercise. (Photo: Italian Air Force)

The Gioia Falcon exercise was initially planned for 2020 at Trapani-Birgi Air Base, however the plan had to be postponed for one year because of the COVID restrictions, requiring the choice of a new host base. Even if the preparations for the deployment in Italy were already completed, the new location required the restart of the six-month planning process, including the site surveys and the logistic preparations to support the 11 Vipers (as the F-16s are dubbed by the pilots) and about 150 people, including aircrews and support personnel.

The Italian Air Force assisted its Dutch counterpart in the logistical effort, giving access to briefing and debriefing systems and the ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation) to allow aircrews to see and analyze the full picture of their mission in order to make consistent debriefings. The Italians also gave space for all the equipment that was brought over and an entire hangar for maintenance. In fact, the RNLAF brought over, in addition to the F-16s and the equipment in the containers, most of the vehicles needed for flight line operations, practicing for forward deployed operations.

Even if 312 Squadron is the last RNLAF F-16 unit, the aircrews are relatively young, with many having only recently joined the ranks after the graduation from the B-Course in Tucson, Arizona, and using this exercise to work towards their combat readiness. The squadron was not able to attend any international exercises abroad during the last two years, again because of COVID, so it was decided to deploy to Italy to practice operations from unfamiliar airfields and in different air spaces. Another reason was to gain experience while integrating with foreign units and different aircraft.

- Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s Successfully Complete Ex. ‘Gioia Falcon’ With The Italian Air ForceAn Italian F-2000 Typhoon returns from a training mission.

Among the different assets involved in Gioia Falcon with the Dutch F-16s there were the F-2000 Typhoons and HH-139s of the local 36° Stormo Caccia (Fighter Wing) and the F-35As of the 32° Stormo from Amendola Air Base, as well the Italian G550 CAEW and NATO E-3A airborne early warning aircraft and ground-based fighter controllers from the Italian radar units located near the area of the exercise. NATO’s Deployable Air Command and Control Centre based at Poggio Renatico carried out the exercise’s command and control.

Most of the missions of the exercise were flown in the so-called “area Calabria”, covering a large portion of airspace which includes the Calabria region and the Ionian Sea from the surface to FL600 (60,000 ft). This airspace was then divided in the “Red” and “Blue” area, depending on the mission to be flown, but usually the Reds had the larger portion in order for the Blues to simulate deep penetration missions inside the adversary’s airspace.

Training involved multiple types of missions, such as Offensive Counter Air (OCA), with the fighters sweeping the airspace to create a path for strikers, bombing strike missions and Close Air Support (CAS) in support of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC), as well as Defensive Counter Air (DCA) and Air Interdiction.

- Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s Successfully Complete Ex. ‘Gioia Falcon’ With The Italian Air ForceA Dutch F-16 departs from Gioia del Colle during the morning wave.

The Commander of 312 Squadron provided some more details about the missions through his official Twitter account, mentioning that the Large Force Employment scenario involved the creation of a no-fly zone to protect civilians in the area of responsibility. The Red forces violated the no-fly zone multiple times, even trying to attack the Blue airfield in Gioia del Colle, before being repelled.

These actions were followed by strikes against several targets, which however gave the Red forces the chance to shoot down a Blue aircraft (obviously only simulated). Considering when the info about this simulated shot down was published, that F-16 might have been the one that performed the precautionary landing, transforming the unexpected event in a new chance for further training. The simulated crash was, in fact, followed by a Combat Search And Rescue operation to recover the pilot.

All these missions were performed both as “stand-alone” packages or as part of COMposite Air Operations (COMAO) with and without the Italian fighters. As a matter of fact, the exercise’s main focus were the COMAOs, but it was also used as an occasion to integrate during close maneuvering (such as BFMs and ACMs) with Italian assets, maintain pilot’s currencies and training upgrades.

Usually, the aircraft flew two waves each day, including night waves, one of those was dedicated to COMAOs and the other for the other training needs. During the first day of our visit, the night wave was dedicated to a COMAO with F-16s and Typhoons. Each wave involved about eight Dutch F-16s and variable numbers of Italian aircraft, with scenarios evolving day-by-day and increasing difficulty.

The exercise generated about 150 missions for an approximate total of 240 flight hours, which helped to consolidate the interoperability among the participating aircraft and to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency while using common standard Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs). These TTPs are adopted in multinational and complex scenarios and cover the entire spectrum of the missions that can be performed in modern air operations.

The F-35 participation provided a chance to train the integration between fourth and fifth generation aircraft, which are currently in service in both countries, adding training value to the missions. The Lightning II proved once again its versatility in “omnirole” tasks, with its sensors and data fusion allowing the 5th gen aircraft to best lead the mission package in every kind of scenario.

- Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s Successfully Complete Ex. ‘Gioia Falcon’ With The Italian Air ForceThe pilot of the special tail F-16 salutes the photographers as he taxies to the runway.

Interestingly, the F-35s took part to Gioia Falcon in the ranks of both the Red and the Blue forces, much like the US Air Force is doing during Red Flag exercises, giving the 4th gen aircraft the chance not only to integrate with 5th gen aircraft but also to practice how to counter them and hunt them down. During our interview, the pilots mentioned that this is becoming the standard also during everyday’s training.

As we reported, during the same timeframe of Gioia Falcon, and precisely on November 21, the British and U.S. F-35Bs embarked on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier practiced cross deck operations with Italian Air Force’s and Navy’s F-35Bs embarked on the ITS Cavour aircraft carrier. Even if the exercise tool place while both ships were in navigation in the Ionian Sea, the same area used by Gioia Falcon, the Dutch F-16s did not integrate with the embarked fighters as the activities of the two exercises were kept separate.

“Exercise Gioia Falcon provided great results. It demonstrated perfect synergy between flight crews and maintenance teams, allowing integration and interoperability among different generation of aircraft and between the air and surface components,” said Colonel Antonio Vergallo, Commander of the 36th Fighter Wing.  “It has been a great opportunity to exchange operational experience among NATO pilots and operationally assess the great swing role capability of the Eurofighter in an integrated scenario.”

- Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s Successfully Complete Ex. ‘Gioia Falcon’ With The Italian Air ForceThe F-16 waiting for the night wave as the sun sets over Gioia del Colle.

The integration and synergy of the air component with the surface component in these complex multinational scenarios was highlighted during the Close Air Support missions in support of the Joint Terminal Attack Controllers. The JTACs deployed in the area of operations, assigned to the “Fucilieri dell’Aria” (Air Riflemen) of the 16° Stormo, directed the fighters while performing simulated attacks both during day and night.

During our interview, the pilots of both nations highlighted the importance of this kind of exercises to have a chance for a confrontation with other NATO partners. In fact, training together allows to share experiences and lessons learned after the missions, as well as offering a different point of view about how the same mission set is executed by different air forces. This, in turn, allows the continuous refinement of the TTPs to better adapt to future scenarios.

On the other hand, training abroad offers the chance to train in a new unfamiliar environment, draining the situational awareness accumulated while operating from the habitual airfields and forcing the pilots to be more alert. The pilots, in fact, gain valuable training as they need to familiarize with new airspace regulations, new departure and arrival procedures and new reference points. As the Dutch pilots pointed out, only the basic layout of the area was the same they have at home, situated on the coast and composed in part by land and in part by sea from the surface to high altitudes.

The author would like to thank the Italian Air Force and in particular the Public Information Office for the opportunity to visit Gioia del Colle during the exercise Gioia Falcon, as well as the 36th Fighter Wing and its personnel for the hospitality and the help provided during the course of the two Media Days.

1c874047463801220adcba061ba371a3?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s Successfully Complete Ex. ‘Gioia Falcon’ With The Italian Air Force
Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

Typhoons, Predators, P-72A And HH-139s Part Of A Huge Security Operation For G20 Summit In Rome

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Typhoons, Predators, P-72A And HH-139s Part Of A Huge Security Operation For G20 Summit In Rome
File photo of two F-2000A of the 132° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 51° Stormo (Wing). (Image credit: Author)

The is being held among tight security, involving several assets enforcing an ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone).

Many assets of the Aeronautica Militare are currently involved in a large operation required to ensure the security of the G20 summit, hosted by Italy, on Oct. 30 and 31, in Rome, and gathering several Heads of State and Prime Ministers.

Just to give you an idea of the aircraft that arrived at Rome for the summit, besides the Air Force One VC-25A and the accompanying SAM46 C-32A, the State Flights included, among all the others, the Korean B747-400, Indian B777, German Air Force A319, the Spanish A310, the Russian Il-96, Turkish A330, Argentinian A330, Royal Australian Air Force KC-30.

Here are just a couple of shots of the visitors; we will publish an article with the photographs of the most interesting ones in the next few days.

- Typhoons, Predators, P-72A And HH-139s Part Of A Huge Security Operation For G20 Summit In RomeKAF001, the South Korean B747-400. (Image credit: Giovanni Maduli)
- Typhoons, Predators, P-72A And HH-139s Part Of A Huge Security Operation For G20 Summit In RomeBrunei Government B787-800 about to land at Rome Fiumicino airport. (Image credit: Matteo Buono)

Restrictions on flight activities have been established beginning on Oct. 28 and ending at midnight on Nov. 1, 2021.

First of all, an ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone), with a radius of 75 NM from Rome, was implemented: all traffic that intends to operate inside the area, at any level, has to file a Flight Plan at least 2 hours earlier and operate with the assigned transponder mode. Within 35NM from Rome, VFR traffic is denied from Ground to FL175, while within 6.5NM from Rome, all traffic has been denied (except approved IFR flights from/to Fiumicino and Ciampino).

All the violations will cause a reaction by the Air Defense.

To that respect, the contingent put in place by the Italian Air Force includes two types of interceptors. For medium and fast aircraft, the Eurofighter Typhoons from Grosseto, Rivolto (where the F-2000As normally based at Istrana are operating these days because of works at their homebase), Gioia del Colle and Trapani are involved in H24 Combat Air Patrol, supported by both KC-767A and KC-130J tankers, inside R48, a restricted airspace located to the east of Rome: from there, the F-2000As (as the single-seat Typhoon are designated in Italy) could be dispatched to intercept an unknown or “renegade” aircraft much faster than any QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) fighter scrambled from its airbase.

- Typhoons, Predators, P-72A And HH-139s Part Of A Huge Security Operation For G20 Summit In RomeTwo F-2000s and a KC-767A inside R48 airspace. (Image credit: Giovanni Maduli / The Aviationist)

For the slow movers (helicopters, light or ultralight aircraft, drones etc), the assets in CAPs at low level over downtown Rome are the HH-139 helicopters in SMI (Slow Mover Intercept) configuration. The Italian Air Force helicopters have been the only to fly over Rome alongside the ones of the Polizia (Police), Guardia di Finanza (Customs Police), Carabinieri (Military Police) and HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service).

Dealing with the Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and Information Superiority mission, a G.550 CAEW from Pratica di Mare has constantly provided air surveillance, command and control in cooperation with the Air Defense radars. An MQ-9 Predator has also been dispatched and constantly monitors the area where the Summit is held where the sensors of a P-72A have also been pointed. Belonging to the 41° Stormo (Wing) from Sigonella Air Base and flown by a mixed Air Force/Navy crew, the P-72A is a military variant of the ATR 72-600 that can undertake multiple roles: although it was born as a MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft), the P-72A is equipped with ESM (Electronic Support Measures) sensors along with a communication suite that enable the aircraft to collect data from signals it receives and transmit in real-time to/from command and control centres either on the ground, in the air or at-sea, to ensure coordinated and effective operations.

By the way, as already explained, although it is a multirole Maritime Patrol, Electronic Surveillance and C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) aircraft that shares many sensors and equipments which were developed for the ATR 72ASW developed by Leonardo for the Turkish Navy, the P-72A lacks an ASW (Anti-Sub Warfare) capability: for this reason it is considered a “gap filler” until the budget to procure a Long Range MPA with ASW capabilities will become available.

The participation of the P-72A in the G20 security mission was exposed by its Mode-S transponder that showed the aircraft orbiting over Rome on Oct. 29 for some hours, until the transponder was turned off.

Actually, other assets could be tracked online during the operation. Among them, the G.550 CAEW:

- Typhoons, Predators, P-72A And HH-139s Part Of A Huge Security Operation For G20 Summit In RomeThe track of the G.550 CAEW as seen on the public website ADSBExchange.

Noteworthy, C-UAS (Counter-Unmanned Air System) technologies were also deployed by the Italian Air Force to face the threat of small drones in areas surrounding the summit venue.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Typhoons, Predators, P-72A And HH-139s Part Of A Huge Security Operation For G20 Summit In Rome
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Kuwait’s First Two Eurofighter Typhoons Break Cover, Perform First Flight

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Kuwait’s First Two Eurofighter Typhoons Break Cover, Perform First Flight
One of the two Typhoons destined to Kuwait during taxi on Oct. 15, 2021. (All images: Alessandro Maggia)

Kuwaiti Air Force Typhoons are going to be the most advanced in service among the eight Eurofighter operators.

On Oct. 15, 2021, the first two Eurofighter Typhoon jets destined to Kuwait made their first flight at Leonardo’s Caselle plant near Turin, northwestern Italy.

The two aircraft were given the Italian experimental serials CSX55243 and CSX55244 but they will become KT001 and KT002 once in service with the Kuwaiti Air Force. The aircraft currently sport the flag of Kuwait, the Kuwaiti Air Force insignia and a medium grey paint scheme that, under certain lighting conditions, seems quite similar to the one of the German Air Force Typhoons.

Ace aviation photographer Alessandro Maggia took the shots of the new aircraft as they taxied and took off for their first local test sortie inside the R64 and R64bis restricted airspaces.

- Kuwait’s First Two Eurofighter Typhoons Break Cover, Perform First FlightTake off

Kuwait is set to receive 28 Typhoons: 22 single-seater and 6 twin-seats. The Typhoons will be equipped with the first variant of the Captor E AESA radar, the ECRS Mk 0, together with P3Eb (Phase 3 Enhancements Package b) multi-role features and the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, in what is considered the most advanced Typhoon ever produced. This specific configuration was developed and tested in Italy using the Typhoon ISPA 6 (Instrumented Series Production Aircraft).

Eurofighter Kuwait 2 - Kuwait’s First Two Eurofighter Typhoons Break Cover, Perform First Flight
Steep climb

The contract for 28 aircraft was inked in April 2016 after a first MoU had been signed in September 2015. Deliveries were initially set to be completed in 2023 but it’s not clear whether the plan is still the initial one. Kuwait will be the eight Eurofighter operator, after Austria, Italy, Germany, Spain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UK.

- Kuwait’s First Two Eurofighter Typhoons Break Cover, Perform First FlightFinal approach.

The Kuwaiti Air Force has been flying with an F/A-18C/D single-type frontline since the retirement of Mirage F1Ks and A-4KUs Skyhawks after the Gulf War. However it will soon return to a two-type frontline with an order also for 28 Super Hornets, order in 2018, with the same mix of single and two-seaters: 22 F/A-18Es and 6 F/A-18Fs.

- Kuwait’s First Two Eurofighter Typhoons Break Cover, Perform First FlightA side view of one of the first two Kuwaiti Air Force Typhoons.

H/T to our friend Matteo Buono for the heads-up and a big thank you to Alessandro Maggia for the shots. Make sure to visit his Instagram account for more amazing photographs here: @alessandro_maggia_avphotos

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Kuwait’s First Two Eurofighter Typhoons Break Cover, Perform First Flight
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

F-35 In ‘Beast Mode’, Swing-Role Typhoons And Everything You’ll Find In The 2022 Calendar Of The Italian Air Force

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - F-35 In ‘Beast Mode’, Swing-Role Typhoons And Everything You’ll Find In The 2022 Calendar Of The Italian Air Force
The cover of the 2022 calendar. The 100-1 marks the fact that 2022 will lead to the centenary of the Italian Air Force that will be celebrated in 2023 (on Mar. 28, 2023). (All images: ItAF / Troupe Azzurra)

The Italian Air Force 2022 Calendar Marks A Significant Change In The Service’s Communication Strategy.

On Oct. 7, 2021, the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) presented its 2022 calendar during an event attended by civil and military authorities as well as media representatives organized in a recently restored hangar at Urbe airport, in Rome, Italy. While the annual Italian Air Force calendar has a reputation for its choice of amazing photographs, the 2022 edition is much more interesting (at least to this Author) than usual: in order to show, “without hypocrisy”, the service’s most modern and advanced face, the new calendar features an F-35A in “Beast Mode” on the cover and 12 main shots (one for each month) of aircraft in “operational configuration”.

More in detail, F-35A Lightning, Eurofighter Typhoons, Tornado IDS and ECR, and also a T-346 (M-346 Master) are depicted carrying (inert) weapons in the 2022 calendar marking a first for the Italian Air Force: for various reasons, the Aeronautica Militare has always been rather cautious in showing only its peaceful face, highlighting the dual role of its fleet and the missions flown in support of the population, almost hiding the most realistic nature of its tasks.

- F-35 In ‘Beast Mode’, Swing-Role Typhoons And Everything You’ll Find In The 2022 Calendar Of The Italian Air ForceTwo F-35A of the 32° Stormo.

The change in communication strategy found its most evident expression in the 2022 calendar where we can eventually find F-35s, plenty of bombs and swing-role Typhoons, three “taboo topics” until a few years ago. However, the switch was already underway. It all started with the slow acceptance of the Lockheed Martin’s 5th generation aircraft by the public opinion and the subsequent drop from the interests of those parties who had made of the fight against the American stealth aircraft one of the cornerstones of their political agenda.

A step at a time, after years of ostracism, the Air Force became less “shy” of its most advanced aircraft and, between 2018 and 2019, the first significant details about the F-35 and its progress (including the Initial Operational Capability or the first deployment under NATO command) started to be released until, in 2020, the images of the ItAF F-35A and B flying together in Beast Mode for the first time were published on the Italian Air Force website. A pretty bold move considered the earlier “low profile” approach, that eventually led to the F-35 in Beast Mode (an Italian Beast Mode considered that the aircraft can’t carry any AAMs – Air to Air Missiles – on the outer pylons since the AIM-9X is not in inventory and the IRIS-T integration has not been requested) making the front cover of the 2022 calendar

The more relaxed atmosphere surrounding the program made it possible for the Aeronautica Militare to eventually publicly talk about the Typhoon as a multirole aircraft.

- F-35 In ‘Beast Mode’, Swing-Role Typhoons And Everything You’ll Find In The 2022 Calendar Of The Italian Air ForceTwo Eurofighter Typhoons of the 4° Stormo (Wing).

Unlike other partner nations that used the Typhoon for air interdiction missions quite soon, the Italian Air Force hadn’t initially planned to employ the Typhoon is the air-to-surface role, stubbornly claiming that the Eurofighter was just an air superiority fighter. In 2016, when the Italian Typhoons took part in their first Red Flag exercise, three of the Typhoons deployed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, were Tranche 2 examples that embedded the P1E(B) upgrades and were loaded with the latest Software Release Package. The two T2 Typhoons carried also two inert GBU-16 Paveway II LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and the Litening targeting pod. At that time, the Italian Air Force claimed the Swing Role capability was being developed only to support the platform’s export capabilities and help the industry promoting the aircraft in particular regions (like Kuwait). Following the Red Flag participation, a team of experienced Eurofighter pilots was destined to the new role and those aircrews who were already dual role qualified took part in a TLP (Tactical Leadership Programme) course at Albacete flying the Swing Role mission. Little by little, the Italian Air Force continued to work on the “multirole evolution” of Typhoon that was also deployed to Kuwait in support of OIR (Operation Inherent Resolve) in Syria and Iraq, and eventually became more vocal about the swing-role capabilities of the Eurofighter, as proved by the official photographs of the Typhoons carrying the new GBU-48s released earlier this year.

In the end, the photos of the armed Italian aircraft (that are accompanied by many historical images and details of aircraft that preceded the birth of the service in 1923) are quite cool.

As already said, along with the F-35A in Beast Mode (that is not an official or technical term but just a common way an F-35 configuration involving both internal and external loads is dubbed) and the Typhoons with GBUs there are also other types in the 2022 calendar, including a Tornado IDS with GBU-32 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) with a Tornado ECR carrying two AGM-88 HARMs; two T-346 advanced jet trainers including one with a CATM-9 (Captive Air Training Missile); an HH-101A Caesar in the new overall grey color scheme, two KC-767A tankers, a new HH-139B, an MQ-9A Predator B UAS (Unmanned Aerial System); a T-260A basic trainer; and a G550 CAEW.

We can’t but notice that the only significant missing one is the F-35B STOVL aircraft that was one of the highlights of the recent Rivolto airshow that celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Frecce Tricolori display team.

- F-35 In ‘Beast Mode’, Swing-Role Typhoons And Everything You’ll Find In The 2022 Calendar Of The Italian Air ForceTornados of the 6° Stormo in action.
- F-35 In ‘Beast Mode’, Swing-Role Typhoons And Everything You’ll Find In The 2022 Calendar Of The Italian Air ForceT-346A Master.

By the way, it’s worth remembering that also last year the calendar contained a gem: a rare photograph of the secretive YEC-27J JEDI (Jamming and Electronic Defense Instrumentation), the EW (Electronic Warfare) variant of the C-27J Spartan.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - F-35 In ‘Beast Mode’, Swing-Role Typhoons And Everything You’ll Find In The 2022 Calendar Of The Italian Air Force
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Two Russian Tu-160 Bombers Escorted By Flankers Intercepted By Italian Typhoons, Danish F-16s Over The Baltic Sea

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Two Russian Tu-160 Bombers Escorted By Flankers Intercepted By Italian Typhoons, Danish F-16s Over The Baltic Sea
Some screenshots from the Russian MOD video show the Tu-160s, accompanying Su-35S and an Italian Eurofighter Typhoon. In the bottom left hand box, a screenshot from FR24.com.

Two Tu-160s have flown over the Baltic region. NATO, Finnish and Swedish fighters shadowed the Russian Blackjacks which were escorted by Su-35s.

Two Russian Aerospace Forces Tu-160 Blackjacks carried out an 8-hour mission that brought the bombers off the Baltic States on Sept. 21, 2021. According to the Russian MOD, the two strategic missile carriers performed a planned flight in airspace over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea.

The missile-carrier bombers were escorted by two Su-35S aircraft of the Aerospace Force and two Su-27 fighters of the Baltic Fleet’s naval aviation during their mission.

As happened last time the Tu-160s from Engels-2 Air Base in Saratov, Oblast, southwestern Russia, the Russian Long Range Aviation (LRA) trip in the Baltic region caused several NATO, Finnish and Swedish aircraft in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) to support Baltic Air Policing (BAP) to scramble.

The video released by the Russian MOD shows some of the fighters that were dispatched to identify and shadow the Russian “package” as it operated in international airspace: you can clearly see an Italian Air Force Typhoon currently deployed to Amari for Baltic Eagle II where they replaced the F-35As (the Russian MOD press release did mention the Italian fighters but misidentified them as F-16s) and Royal Danish Air Force F-16s. Finnish Air Force F-18s and Swedish Air Force JAS 39 Gripens were also launched and intercepted the Tu-160s.

Interestingly, at least one Su-35S made an appearance on Flightradar24.com, marking (to our knowledge), the very first time a Russian Flanker could be tracked online.

The Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack, is the largest and heaviest combat aircraft, the fastest bomber in use and the largest and heaviest variable-sweep wing airplane ever flown. Its first flight dates back to 1981 and its induction into active service took place in 1987.

The Tu-160 took part in the Air War in the skies over Syria; at least one Tu-160 aircraft flew a strike mission on Nov. 17, 2015 that hit ISIL targets in Syria using Russian 3M-54 Kalibur cruise missiles launched at standoff range. As of 2016, the Russian Air Force’s LRA still had 16 aircraft in service. In other words it’s a rare bird.

The Russians are already working on its replacement. The new Tu-160M2s are not be rebuilt, upgraded existing Tu-160s, but rather new production aircraft coming from the Tupolev plant. The new Tu-160M2 version, includes a glass cockpit, weapons upgrades, new engines and the removal of obsolete equipment no longer relevant to the Tu-160’s mission. The first flight of the first Tu-160M2 took place on Feb. 2, 2020 and lasted 2 hours and 34 minutes.  The second Tu-160M, equipped with new engines NK-32 series 02 (NK-32-02), made its maiden flight a few days ago, on Sept. 17, 2021.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Two Russian Tu-160 Bombers Escorted By Flankers Intercepted By Italian Typhoons, Danish F-16s Over The Baltic Sea
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First Time

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First Time
A file photo of the Il-22PP Mute. (All images: Alex Snow)

The Il-22PP Special Mission Aircraft were intercepted over the Baltic Sea for the very first time.

Some pretty interesting close encounters between NATO fighters supporting BAP (Baltic Air Policing) mission and Russian aircraft flying in international airspace close to the airspace of the Baltic States took place on Jul. 29, 2021: overall, two Il-22PP “Mute” Electronic Warfare Aircraft, one Su-24 Fencer and an Il-76 Candid transport were tracked, intercepted and identified in the same area as they were on their way to Russia from Kaliningrad Oblast.

According to NATO, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem in Germany launched the allied fighter aircraft to intercept and identify them. The Russian aircraft did not have flight plans nor transmit transponder codes, and thus posed a potential risk to civilian flights.

The intercept mission was carried out by Spanish Air Force Eurofighters and Italian Air Force F-35s, both on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duty in the Baltic region.

Noteworthy, it was the very first time NATO intercepted the Il-22PP Porubshchik (NATO designation “Mute”) in that region. The “electronic escort” aircraft made its first appearance in 2017, during the celebrations of the 105th anniversary of the Russian air force over Kubinka. According to Piotr Butowski, the aircraft is a SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) and stand-off jamming platform, based on a converted Il-22 “Coot-B” aircraft (a command post and radio relay aircraft based on the Il-18D airliner).

According to Mikhail Khodorenok, a retired colonel and military analyst of the Gazeta.ru online newspaper, the Il-22PP was a necessity for the military when no other options were available:

“At one time, a few more options were considered: AN-140 and AN-158 planes with turbojet engines as well as the Tu-214,” he told RBTH. “However, at the time of the formation of the ‘defense procurement’ in 2009, none of these models were not yet fully ready to be equipped with the latest electronic warfare [EW] systems.”

“Of course, this is not an ideal solution,” he added, explaining why the new weapon has been placed on a “trusty old horse.” “However, for lack of a better option, a choice had to be made – either to stay without the EW aircraft, or to mount the equipment on the tested wings.”

While it might be a gap filler until  it is replaced by a more modern aircraft in the future, the Il-22PP aircraft (also nicknamed “Fridge” by the Russians – because it’s large and white..), is equipped with antennas so that it scans radio signals in the area of its activity and selectively jam those on which enemy aircraft, drones or air defense systems work.

- NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First TimeAnother image of the Il-22P. Note all the bulges of this special mission aircraft.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First Time
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Rare Photos Show Italian Eurofighters Dropping Flares During Live-Fire CAS Training With U.S. JTACs In Kuwait

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Rare Photos Show Italian Eurofighters Dropping Flares During Live-Fire CAS Training With U.S. JTACs In Kuwait
A Eurofighter Typhoon assigned to the Italian air force drops flares during a bilateral joint fires exercise at Udairi Range Complex, Kuwait, May 26, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristine Legate)

Images of Eurofighter Typhoons popping flares are pretty rare. Here are some cool ones taken during joint training between Italian Air Force and U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps personnel in Kuwait.

Four Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jets are currently stationed in Kuwait, to support OIR (Operation Inherent Resolve), the multinational campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. The F-2000A jets have deployed in April 2021, as part of “Prima Parthica”, as the Italian Armed Forces operation is dubbed at national level, and operate within the Task Group “Typhoon”.

Since they arrived at Alì Al Salem Air Base, west of Kuwait City, the Italian jets have logged more than 3,000 FH (Flight Hours) carrying out reconnaissance missions on more than 10,000 points of interest, using the Rafael Reccelite reconnaissance pod. Integrated on the Typhoon fleet since 2015, the Reccelite is the Italian Air Force’s tactical pod of choice to carry out ISR missions: it is a Day/Night electro-optical pod able to provide real-time imagery collection. It is made of a stabilized turret, solid-state on board recorder that provides image collections in all directions, from high, medium and low altitudes. The Reccelite reconnaissance pod is used to broadcast live video imagery via datalink to ground stations and to ROVER (Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver) tactical receivers in a range of about 100 miles.

Along with the OIR missions, the Italian Typhoons regularly conduct missions over the local ranges in coordination with U.S. JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).

Some details about such missions were released by the U.S. DoD. In particular, on May 26, the Typhoons were involved in a live-fire close air support training
conducted with members assigned to the U.S. Air Force 82nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron; Army 1st Battalion, 194th Armor Regiment; Navy UNIT; Marine Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines; at Udairi Range Complex, Kuwait.

Eurofighter Typhoon dropping flares over Kuwait 3 - Rare Photos Show Italian Eurofighters Dropping Flares During Live-Fire CAS Training With U.S. JTACs In Kuwait
A Eurofighter Typhoon popping flares over a Kuwaiti range (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristine Legate)

During the tactical activity at the range, artillery Soldiers, along with JTACs and forward air controllers with the U.S. Armed Forces, coordinated a series of tasks that incorporated close air support provided by Italian Eurofighter Typhoon pilots.

“For the [Italian Eurofighter Typhoons], this is a great opportunity to be controlled by U.S. ground controllers,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Peter Martinez, 3rd Angelico Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force JTAC in a public release. “This experienced allowed us all exposure to different tempos and language barriers.”

While Soldiers and Marines with the weapons company in the 2nd Battalion and 1st Marines, respectively, fired mortars to orient the pilot’s eyes or suppress enemy fire, JTACs and FACs coordinated with the Typhoon pilots and the weapons company, in what was the first time the U.S. personnel cooperated with the Eurofighter.

Eurofighter Typhoon dropping flares over Kuwait - Rare Photos Show Italian Eurofighters Dropping Flares During Live-Fire CAS Training With U.S. JTACs In Kuwait
Seen from distance, an ItAF F-2000A (as the single seat Typhoons are designated in Italy) drops flares during live-fire close air support training at Udairi Range Complex, Kuwait, May 26, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taryn Butler)

“It’s the first-time training with [Eurofighter Typhoons] and this gave us a better understanding of their capabilities,” Hansen said. “It also allowed us to broaden our horizons and become a little bit more familiar with how the Army and Marines do what they do, and why they do what they do with the tools they have.”

While over the range, the Eurofighters popped flares: while normal in a real operational environment, it’s not that usual to see a Typhoon (even more so, an Italian F-2000) using flares, i.e. high-temperature heat sources used to mislead surface-to-air or air-to-air missile’s heat-seeking targeting systems, creating the pyrotechnic visual effect similar to a fireworks display. Such countermeasures are used against MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) and IR-guided surface-to-air missiles.

Eurofighter Typhoon dropping flares over Kuwait 2 - Rare Photos Show Italian Eurofighters Dropping Flares During Live-Fire CAS Training With U.S. JTACs In Kuwait
An Italian air force Eurofighter Typhoon drops a flare during live-fire close air support training at Udairi Range Complex, Kuwait, May 26, 2021. The training consisted of U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Italian air force personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taryn Butler)

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Rare Photos Show Italian Eurofighters Dropping Flares During Live-Fire CAS Training With U.S. JTACs In Kuwait
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter Day

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter Day
Some of the highlights of the NTM2021 Spotter Day. (All images David Parody unless otherwise stated)

The second Spotter Day of NATO Tiger Meet (NTM) 2021 was held yesterday at Beja Air Base, Portugal. And here are some gorgeous shots.

The flying segment of this year’s edition of NATO Tiger Meet (NTM) 2021, organized by the Portuguese Air Force, at Beja Air Base, ended today, May 13, 2021, at lunch time. Some transports have already arrived at Air Base No. 11 (BA11) to pick things up as the drills officially finishes tomorrow.

We have already provided a lot of details about the exercise in a previous post we published after our correspondent David Parody, attended the exercise’s Media Day on May 3. David went again to Beja AB on May 12, for the second Spotter Day arranged by the Portuguese Air Force and NTM 2021’s host unit, the Squadron 301 “Jaguares”.

According to the Portuguese Air Force, about 160 photography and military aviation enthusiasts of various nationalities attended the NTM 2021 Spotter Day.

During the morning, they had the opportunity to watch and photograph an “Elephant Walk”, with 23 aircraft taxiing down the runway before take off.

Elephant Walk Beja NTM21 - Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter Day
NTM 2021 Elephant Walk. (Image credit: Portuguese Air Force)

During the afternoon, the spotter’s saw more take-offs and landings, including those of the F-16s from Poland, Greece and Portugal, the F-18s from Switzerland and the F-2000 Typhoons from Italy. Along with the fast jets, the Spotter Day featured some pretty interesting helicopter action, involving the Italian AB.212ICO and HH-101A Caesar helicopters of the 21° Gruppo (Squadron) of the Italian Air Force, which operated with the Portuguese EH-101 Merlin of the Esquadra 751.

- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayThe Italian Air Force HH-101A
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayNice trio of helicopters, including an AB-212ICO of the 21° Gruppo.

Surprise visit was the French Air Force E-3 which just did a flypast. Swiss Pilatus PC-24 and Portuguese C-295 were other much appreciated visitors. Anyway, in this article you can find some of the highlights photographed by David Parody at Beja AB.

- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayF-16 of the 301 Sqn of the Portuguese Air Force.
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayPortuguese Tiger
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayShaka sign
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayItalian Typhoon. Note the centerline Litening pod.
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayThe Italian Air Force F-2000 of the 12° Gruppo.
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayHAF F-16 on the go.
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayPortuguese F-16.
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayHAF pilot close up.
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayHellenic Air Force F-16.
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayPolish Viper launching.
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DaySpecial Colored F-16 of the host unit.
- Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter DayPortuguese EH-101.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Take A Look At These Amazing Photos Of Yesterday’s NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotter Day
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.
The special F-16 of the Portuguese Air Force. (All images: David Parody)

Our correspondent David Parody went to Beja, Portugal, for NATO Tiger Meet 2021.

NATO Tiger Meet (NTM) is one of Europe’s most famous and loved among the aviation enthusiasts community, multinational exercise attended by squadrons sporting Tiger (or feline) emblems. As often explained, although it usually includes Spotters/Media Day and, sometimes, an Open Day for general public, NTM is not an air show: all types of air-to-air and air-to-ground and a wide variety of support missions are part of each Tiger Meeting, whose goals are the “creation of a high-level tactical exercise, where participants can train realistically; practice day and night operations in a multi-domain environment, against air, land and sea threats; maximize integration and interoperability with NATO members & Partnership for Peace Members, and share learning points; creation of an environment promoting the well-known “Tiger Spirit”, which respects the NATO Tiger Association Traditions and Customs.”

However, the main difference between NTM and many other “traditional” exercises is that many aircraft taking part in the maneuvers, at least one (but usually more than one) per participating unit, sport Tiger markings, Special Tails or flamboyant tiger-themed paint schemes.

This year’s edition, NTM 21, organized by the Portuguese Air Force, is underway from May 2 to May 14, 2021,  at Air Base No. 11 (BA11), in Beja. The Portuguese airbase was planned to host the NTM in 2020, but the exercise last year was cancelled because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.Commanding Officer, Major Driller, of 301 Squadron.

NTM21 host unit is the Squadron 301 “Jaguares” of the Portuguese Air Force. At NTM 2019, which took place in Mont-de-Marsan, France, the Portuguese unit, flying the F-16 was awarded both the “Silver” trophy Tiger ”and the“ Tiger Spirit ”award.

- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.NTM 2021 is underway at Beja AB, Portugal.

Nine “Tiger” squadrons from 8 allied nations for a total of more than 50 aircraft and around 1,000 military personnel are scheduled to take part in this year’s Tiger Meet that, as usual, will also be supported by several “external” units, including Esquadra 751, performing troop insertion with its EH-101 Merlin helicopters; and the civilian Cobham Aviation with its Special Mission Falcon 20 jet.

- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.Portuguese F16 MLU with squadrons 50 anniversary tail.

The Game Plan

The NTM’s program is basically always the same: two waves are flown, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The first ones are usually the most complex COMAO (Composite Air Operations) and the second ones are the so-called Shadow/Panther missions (the first are performed during the day the second are night missions), smaller scale events which usually involve junior pilots. There are also some night operations, this year planned on May 4, 5 and 6, 2021.

- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.Portuguese F16 MLU with squadrons 50 anniversary tail.

COMAO missions cover the entire spectrum of air operations with broad force involvement as part of the same package: from the air defense of a specific area to the offensive operations against all types of targets (both maritime and land), all the missions require the participants to cooperate and face threats to ingress and egress a simulated contested airspace.

- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.Swiss Air Force F/A-18C Hornet with NTM tail.

Shadow and Panther missions are smaller scale missions, where specific operations will be trained. Some examples are: CAS (Close Air Support), in coordination with ground troops; Vehicle Interdiction or Hostage Rescue, where a helicopter will command the operation with the support of fighters; Basic Fighter Maneuvers (BFM) and DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training).

- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.The Italian special Eurofighter Typhoon.
- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.Tiger tail.

Tiger Meetings also offer some nice exchange opportunity for aircrew to fly orientation missions aboard allied aircraft.

Media Day

On May 3, 2021, our contributor David Parody had the opportunity to attend the Media Day at Beja and shoot the photographs you can find in this article.

Among the most interesting, eye-catching liveries of NTM 21, we can’t but mention the one of the Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon with the 12° Gruppo (Squadron) with the Siberian/White Tiger as well as the host nation’s F-16 MLU jets: the full Tiger special color of the Esq 301 along with the other F-16 Viper sporting the 50th anniversary tail.

- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.The Tiger-themed F-2000A of the Italian Air Force.
- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.Polish Air Force F-16C Block 52+
- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.Swiss Air Force F/A-18C Hornet with NTM tail landing after a mission.
- We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.Greek Air Force F-16C Block 52+ with NTM paint scheme.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - We Have Been To NATO Tiger Meet 2021 And Here Are The Most Interesting Aircraft We Found There.
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Italian Typhoons Deploy To Kuwait To Carry Out ISR Missions In Support Of Operation Inherent Resolve

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Italian Typhoons Deploy To Kuwait To Carry Out ISR Missions In Support Of Operation Inherent Resolve
Two F-2000s taxi after their arrival at Alì Al Salem. (Image credit: Italian Air Force)

The Italian Air Force Typhoons have arrived at Alì Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.

Four F-2000A Typhoon jets, belonging to the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) have deployed to Kuwait, to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the multinational campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, as part of “Prima Parthica”, as the Italian Armed Forces operation is dubbed at national level.

While it’s not the first time the Italian Typhoons deploy to Kuwait, it’s the very first time since the Italian National Contingent Command Air – Task Force Air Kuwait has been established in 2014, that the Italian combat aircraft operate out of Alì Al Salem Air Base (west of Kuwait City): during their previous tour of duty in support of OIR, from Mar. 26, 2019 to Aug. 12, 2020, the Italian Eurofighters were stationed at Ahmed Al Jaber airbase (located to the south of Kuwait City).

In the next weeks, the Typhoons, belonging to the 4° Stormo (Wing), from Grosseto Air Base, and 36° Stormo, from Gioia del Colle, and operating within the Task Group “Typhoon”, will replace four Tornado IDS aircraft of the 154° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 6° Stormo (Wing) of the Italian Air Force, operating as part of the Task Group “Devil” at Ahmed Al Jaber airbase.

The “Typhoon trail” was supported by a KC-767 aircraft of the 8th Squadron/14th Wing from Pratica di Mare, that rejoined with the Eurofighters over the Ionian Sea, where the first of three aerial refuelings that allowed the aircraft to reach their destination after about 4.5 flight hours. Shortly after they arrived at Alì Al Salem, the Typhoons have launched the first Local Area Orientation sorties, which included missions over the local ranges in coordination with U.S. JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).

The F-2000s (as the Italian single-seat “Tiffies” are designated) will carry out the same mission flown by the Tornado (and previously, the AMX A-11 Ghibli): Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance using the Rafael RecceLite II pod.

The Rafael Reccelite reconnaissance pod, integrated on the Typhoon since 2015, is the Italian Air Force’s tactical pod of choice to carry out ISR missions: the it is a Day/Night electro-optical pod able to provide real-time imagery collection. It is made of a stabilized turret, solid-state on board recorder that provides image collections in all directions, from high, medium and low altitudes. The Reccelite reconnaissance pod is used to broadcast live video imagery via datalink to ground stations and to ROVER (Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver) tactical receivers in a range of about 100 miles.

As explained in a recent article about the integration of the GBU-48 Enhanced Paveway II bombs with the Typhoon fleet for “Swing Role” missions, much has changed since the times the Italian Air Force saw the Eurofighter as an air superiority platform. Here’s what this Author wrote about the “transformation” we have observed in the last years:

While the integration of the new bombs is interesting, what’s even more remarkable is the fact that the Italian Air Force has become quite vocal about the “Swing Role” capabilities of its F-2000s (the Italian designation for the Typhoon is F-2000A, for the single seater, and TF-2000A, for the two seater).

As we reported in detail throughout the years, unlike other partner nations, the Italian Air Force hadn’t initially planned to employ the Typhoon is the air-to-surface role. In 2016, when the Italian Typhoons took part in their first Red Flag exercise, three of the Typhoons deployed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, were Tranche 2 examples that embedded the P1E(B) upgrades and were loaded with the latest Software Release Package. The two T2 Typhoons carried also two inert GBU-16 Paveway II LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and the Litening targeting pod in order to validate the tactics being developed since the aircraft started the OT&E (Operational Testing & Evaluation) in 2015. At that time, the Italian Air Force claimed the Swing Role capability was being developed only to support the platform’s export capabilities and help the industry promoting the aircraft in particular regions (like Kuwait).

“Air superiority remains our primary mission,” told us Col. Pederzolli, commander of the 4° Stormo, during an interview in 2016. “However, last year, using the software releases that embed a significant air-to-surface potential we have started flying Swing Role missions with the aim to get a limited secondary air-to-ground capability.”

Following the Red Flag participation, a team of experienced Eurofighter pilots was destined to the new role and those aircrews who were already dual role qualified took part in a TLP (Tactical Leadership Programme) course at Albacete flying the Swing Role mission.

Many things have changed since then.

Despite the domestic criticism, Italy has started receiving its first F-35A (and then B) Lightning II jets, that the Italian Air Force has declared IOC (Initial Operational Capable) at the end of 2018 during the first 5th gen. TLP training course held at Amendola Air Base, home of the 32° Stormo, the first Italian Lightning unit. The stealth aircraft has then been more or less accepted by the public opinion and has already carried out two overseas missions under NATO command and has also achieved IOC in the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) role, showcasing the willingness of the Italian Air Force to exploit the F-35 not only in the air-to-surface but also in the air-to-air role. This has also paved the way for a gradual expansion of the Eurofighter tasks with more communication being done around the Swing Role capabilities of the F-2000s.

Typhoon 4 Stormo air to air - Italian Typhoons Deploy To Kuwait To Carry Out ISR Missions In Support Of Operation Inherent Resolve
Two Typhoons of the 4° Stormo as seen from a KC-767A. (Image credit: Giovanni Maduli / The Aviationist)

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Italian Typhoons Deploy To Kuwait To Carry Out ISR Missions In Support Of Operation Inherent Resolve
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.
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