United State Navy F-35C as well as U.S. Air Force F-35A Display for First Time at Same Airshow– Report And Interviews
The merging of both demo groups offered a beneficial understanding right into the progression of the total Joint Strike Fighter program. This first-ever conference of the F-35 demonstrations likewise showcased the inter-service capacities of the Joint Strike Fighter program.
The timing for this double-demo was excellent. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter initially flew 15 years back in December, 2006. The initial functional F-35s were released 9 years later on with the U.S. Marines in July of 2015. The program ended up being a lightning arrester of objection and also financial worry throughout the very first years of screening as well as combination right into functional solution. Much of the mainstream reporting regarding the program was inadequately educated and also greatly prejudiced as prices intensified as well as routines were extended. Throughout this moment, the public had trouble realizing the capacities of the program, a lot of which are complicated, difficulty historic battle airplane standards or continue to be classified.
According to Senior National Security Business Correspondent Lauren Thompson of Forbes, as well as F-35 prime service provider Lockheed Martin, a September 2021 record stated that the F-35 program, “… anticipates to lower its part of the boxer’s expense per trip hr by 40% over the following 5 years, which would certainly follow a comparable decrease over the previous 5 years”.
In addition, device price of the F-35 has actually dropped continually for many years, although this fad in per-aircraft expense decreases is anticipated to level off in coming years.
In a February 19, 2021 post by Defense Analyst as well as Correspondent John Tirpak in Airforcemag.com, Tirpak reported that, “In the Lot 12, 13 as well as 14 bargain, introduced in October 2019, there were 478 airplane, and also Lockheed’s system rate for the F-35A design dropped listed below $80 million each for the very first time. The Lot 12-14 agreement lowered F-35 system costs almost 13 percent over the previous whole lots, and also noted the 6th succeeding year of system rate decreases.”
Tirpak’s short article took place to estimate Lockheed Martin Vice-President of Aeronautics, Gregory M. Ulmer, as stating, “We’re functioning to maintain a cost-neutral setting for the following manufacturing great deals”. Ulmer as well as Tirpak pointed out the brand-new “Tech Refresh 3”, that Tirpak composes will certainly consist of, “updated software program, enhanced core cpu, [and also] brand-new cabin display screen” as aspects for a leveling-off of price decreases in the F-35 program. Lockheed V.P. Ulmer informed Tirpak that, “We’re functioning to maintain a cost-neutral placement” for the following manufacturing great deals.
Also though the at first questionable F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has actually appreciated considerable financial and also functional battle successes, several experts still have a tough time recognizing the success of the F-35 program, also after a years of strong developments.
“A years earlier was a long period of time earlier,” USAF Major Kristin “BEO” Wolfe informed TheAviationist.com in Battle Creek this weekend break.
Maj. Wolfe is the Commander of the U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and also the group’s lead presentation pilot.
Maj. Wolfe took place to state, “Obviously, any kind of program is mosting likely to have its objections beforehand as well as experience its various sorts of battles. Particularly being multi-service, global, you’ve obtained a great deal of hands in the pot attempting to make one solitary plane that make it suitable for everyone.”
U.S Navy F-35C trainer and also demonstration pilot, LTCR. Daniel “Jiggle” Slater, informed TheAviationist.com, “When it pertains to the inter-service part of it, it is wonderful to have a great deal of components commonness. Regarding the layout goes, we assume that the ‘C’ version’s obtained a wonderful system for the Navy with its huge wing, as well as can lug lots of gas. As Navy pilots, we like that. It offers us a whole lot extra tactical gas prior to we need to go max endurance as well as land back on the ship. The F-35’s doing a wonderful task for us until now.”
Slater, that has actually flown catapult launches from warship in the Navy’s big-winged F-35C design, informed TheAviationist.com that very early objections regarding the front touchdown equipment bobbing throughout catapult released were, “Not truly a huge trouble. They changed the [nose touchdown equipment] damping a little bit”.
Marine and also international F-35 drivers like Israel have real-world fight experience in the airplane.”The armada at Hill [AFB] was currently released. An armada simply returned from an additional AOR( Area Of Responsibility ). We’re full-up, all set to go, flying fight planes. These are fight planes that have actually gotten on release,”Maj. Wolfe claimed. When asked if the media and also public still has trouble comprehending the abilities of the F-35, Maj. Wolfe claimed:”Probably. There’s things that you do not see around. Like, you hardly see that we had an armada in Spangdahlem [Air Base, Germany]
, or currently we have an armada in Guam. That truly does not make it bent on the media. No one [in media] truly recognizes what they’re doing available. I can inform you they’re doing their objective that they educated to do-both in Europe as well as in Asia. It’s extremely hush-hush. In some cases that makes individuals a little cynical. “< img data-attachment-id="79981 "data-permalink=" https://theaviationist.com/2022/07/04/f-35a-f-35c-display-same-airshow/jointf35demo_50/"data-orig-file= "https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/JointF35Demo_50.jpg"data-orig-size="
confirm” the monetary situation for the joint-service F-111. McNamara had not been a boxer pilot. He was an accounting professional. Which might have been a consider the F-111’s very early issues. The F-111 program began the heels of recurring success with the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II, a famous multi-mission battle airplane that at some point offered with every U.S. air arm and also the flying force and also navies of nations worldwide with definite success. 2 flying force, Iran as well as Greece, remain to utilize the multi-mission, multi-service F-4 Phantom II today, making it the initial “Joint Strike Fighter”. McNamara’s F-111 one-aircraft-fits-all monetary idea satisfied with functional catastrophe.
The F-111 never ever did make it right into functional solution with the U.S. Navy. The preliminary implementation of Air Force F-111s to Vietnam was a catastrophe. In March as well as April, 1968, 3 F-111s were shed in Vietnam, likely because of consistent trip control issues. 4 years later on in 1974, after upgrades, the F-111 went back to Vietnam where it did have significant functional success in the later phases of the dispute.
The Navy took place to create its very own airplane with Grumman, the F-14 Tomcat, which was developed as a fleet-defense interceptor. The F-14 did complete its functional solution as a strike airplane nonetheless, nicknamed the “Bombcat”. For the F-35 program, the very first ever before dual-appearance of 2 functional Joint Strike Fighter demonstration groups at one airshow was a watershed minute. And also while, specifically with the F-35 program, the abilities aren’t around aerobatics as well as trip trials, simply the regularity of seeing F-35s flying remarkably in the airshow box has actually moved public assumption in some circles.” Now we’re completely rotated up doing 25 reveals a year,”Major Kristin”BEO”Wolfe informed TheAviationist.com.”Everywhere we go-we have not been way too many locations two times-we see individuals that have actually never ever seen the aircraft fly. They state,’Wow! I did not recognize it can do that!’, even if they‘re reviewing all
the posts and also it’s extremely difficult to inform individuals it’s a really qualified plane. We can not also flaunt whatever in an airshow atmosphere that we in fact do tactically. It’s sort of the crowd-pleasers [at the airshows] versus the battle abilities.”As well as despite the fact that both the Navy and also the Air Force F-35s remain to collect airshow followers with their broadening routine of demonstrations, as Maj. Wolfe
claims, the F-35’s real-world battle capacities are not around airshow efficiencies. They ‘re concerning real-worldbattle, something the F-35 has actually done extremely well at thus far throughout all the solutions. The U.S. Navy F-35Cs made a remarkable entryway in damp, cloudy problems to generate some absolutely amazing visuals with huge vapor cloud shock cones. The Aviationist many thanks Mr. Bretten Bailey and also the whole media group at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow in addition to the U.S. Air Force F-35A Demo Team as well as the U.S. Navy F-35C Demo Team for their kind aid and also gain access to for this record. About Tom Demerly Tom Demerly is a function author, reporter, professional photographer as well as editorialist that has actually composed posts that are released worldwide on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside publication, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s federal government media electrical outlet Sputnik, as well as several various other magazines. Demerly examined journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly offered in a knowledge celebration system as a participant of the U.S. Army as well as Michigan National Guard. His armed forces experience consists of being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia(Cycle C-6-1)
airplane to Keflavik for the extremely very first time. Two F-35As of the 32 ° Stormo over Iceland. For one week, both F-35Bs of the Aeronautica Militare have actually run from Keflavik to perform training goals in remote locations and also with chilly environment. The Italian Air Force released both possessions autonomously, many thanks to a”path”sustained by a KC-767A vessel of the 14 ° Stormo from Pratica di Mare accompanied by one C-130J from the 46 ^ Brigata Aerea in nautical SAR(Search as well as Rescue)arrangement. Many thanks to the vessel assistance, the F-35Bs flew straight from Amendola, in southeastern Italy, to Iceland. The 2 Italian Air Force F-35B throughout a training goal over Iceland(screenshot from ANSA.it video clip)The Italian Air Force thinks about the F-35B and also its STOVL ability a vital element of a bigger expeditionary system that makes the Air Force qualified to task power. If the existing strategies are verified, Italy will acquire a total amount of 90 F-35s: 60 F-35As and also 30 F-35Bs. Out of those 30 F-35Bs, 15 will certainly most likely to the Navy and also 15 to the Air Force. For the minute, the Italian Air Force has actually obtained both airframes that participated in the release to Keflavik(MM7453/32 -14 and also MM7455/32 -18). Right here’s what the previous ItAF Chief of Staff, Gen. Alberto Rosso, stated throughout the discussion of the F-35B at Pantelleria in July 2020, when its initial F-35B participated in an Expeditionary PoC as well as, sustained by a KC-130J vessel, released to Pantelleria, a little island in the Mediterranean Sea, to show the capability of the flying force to task as well as make use of the 5th generation airplane much from house, in a semi-permissive atmosphere, on an austere/bare path typically not useful by various other standard airplane as well as with restricted Force Protection offered by the host nation.:” This capacity is incredibly vital to deal with brand-new circumstances or scenarios like the one we had throughout the Gulf War. Our Tornado jets were released to an airbase [Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE] that was far from the location of procedures: this indicated that our airplane needed to lug as well as fly numerous hrs out a number of airborne refuelings prior to reaching their targets. The capability to run from much shorter paths can enable the choice of a closer airbase and also resolve the trouble. In regards to adaptability, simply believe that in Africa there have to do with 100 paths that have a size in between 2,800 and also 3,000 meters however there are 20 times as lots of paths in between 1,000 and also 1,500 meters in size
. Having the ability to utilize brief paths enables you to increase your capacity to release where required, in an easier as well as quicker way, particularly closer to the location of procedure. Having an airplane that can removing from much shorter paths permits extraordinary versatility also in those circumstances that are presently just hardly possible. In instance of dispute, airplane that have the ability to run from much shorter paths can likewise be distributed to raise their survivability. This versatility to run from bare/austere paths or perhaps freeways makes the air power extra uncertain as well as stands for an essential ability in any kind of circumstance. Therefore, after meticulously examining all the prices as well as circumstances, the Italian Air Force has actually recognized, as done by various other air arms, a combined fleet of F-35A and also B airplane, as one of the most reliable as well as financially hassle-free setup.”Procedure Northern Lighting III will certainly shut on Jul. 8, 2022.< img data-attachment-id="79942 "data-permalink=" https://theaviationist.com/2022/06/28/itaf-f-35b-deployed-iceland-first-time/f-35-iceland-new-3/"data-orig-file= "https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/F-35-Iceland-new-3.jpg"data-orig-size= "1024,658"data-comments-opened="0"data-image-meta =""aperture ":" 3.5", "credit rating":"","electronic camera": "NIKON D750","inscription ":"", "created_timestamp": "1653941378 ","copyright ":"","focal_length ":"14"," iso":"320","shutter_speed ":"0.003125", "title ":" ", "positioning":"1""data-image-title =" F-35 Iceland brand-new 3"data-image-description data-image-caption=" The Italian section of Operation Northern Lightning III"data-medium-file ="https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/the-italian-air-force-has-deployed-its-two-f-35bs-to-iceland-for-the-first-time-17.jpg "data-large-file ="https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/the-italian-air-force-has-deployed-its-two-f-35bs-to-iceland-for-the-first-time-5.jpg"loading ="careless "course= "size-large wp-image-79942 "src ="https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/the-italian-air-force-has-deployed-its-two-f-35bs-to-iceland-for-the-first-time-5.jpg"alt size="706 "elevation =" 454"srcset ="https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/the-italian-air-force-has-deployed-its-two-f-35bs-to-iceland-for-the-first-time-5.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/the-italian-air-force-has-deployed-its-two-f-35bs-to-iceland-for-the-first-time-17.jpg460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/the-italian-air-force-has-deployed-its-two-f-35bs-to-iceland-for-the-first-time-18.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/the-italian-air-force-has-deployed-its-two-f-35bs-to-iceland-for-the-first-time-19.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/F-35-Iceland-new-3.jpg 1024w”dimensions=”(max-width”: 706px )100vw,”706px”>”The Italian section of Operation Northern Lightning III About David Cenciotti David Cenciotti is an independent reporter based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and also Editor of”The Aviationist”, among the globe’s most renowned as well as review armed forces aeronautics blog sites. Given that 1996, he has actually composed for significant globally publications, consisting of Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, as well as numerous others, covering air travel, protection, battle, sector, cyberwar, criminal activity as well as knowledge. He has actually reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia as well as Syria, and also flown numerous battle aircrafts with various flying force. He is a previous 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, an exclusive pilot as well as a grad in Computer Engineering. He has actually created 5 publications as well as added to much more ones.
. The last has actually usually been taken into consideration as well pricey as well as large for the requirements, passions and also pose of the Czech Republic. The circumstance has actually transformed a whole lot as well as, the battle underway in Ukraine As the considerable adjustment in the safety and security scenario in Eastern Europe, have actually presumably pressed the 5th generation airplane at the top of the shortlist: while it is the most pricey (not just to obtain however likewise to run)it is additionally the most modern-day airplane in the globe; it might flawlessly incorporate with existing and also future NATO tools systems for the following years and also, if required, bring nuclear tools. Several various other European nations, also some which had actually formerly disposed of the kind, or smaller sized ones where the F-35 appeared to be as well costly, have actually selected the Lightning II stealth airplane, considering it cost-efficient for their demands after considerable assessments. As well as, if success in the Old Continent market had not been sufficient, the F-35 remains to win likewise in the remainder of the globe. According to the details gotten by the Czech Echo24 media electrical outlet,”The Air Force has actually currently handed down to the ministry its suggestion of which airplane need to secure the Czech skies in the coming years. The choice will certainly be up to the federal government and also the ministry. The Czech Republic will certainly probably not make use of the alternative to acquire formerly rented airplane. In 2027, it will certainly be greater than a quarter of a century old makers that will certainly retire within the following years.”In such context, “the American F-35 is described as the best prospect. […]https://theaviationist.com/2022/03/28/canada-selects-the-f-35-and-enters-into-negotiations-with-lockheed-martin-for-88-stealth-jets/”>The cost would possibly be around 85 to 90 million bucks each.” Priest Jana Černochová ought to generate the purpose of buying 24 brand-new boxers throughout the summertime, according to the regional everyday, despite the fact that a main choice might slide to 2023. Considerable rate of interest in the F-35 by the Czech Republic has actually been validated by J.R. McDonald, the vice head of state of F-35 service advancement at Lockheed Martin, throughout a press conference on the opening day of the ILA Berlin Air Show recently, when he stated:”Initially we provided both the F-16 Block 70/72 as well as F-35A, yet after examining their demands, we have actually gone down the F-16. As much
as we understand, the Czech Air Force demand is for in between 18-24 [airplane] […] You’ll listen to much more regarding it quickly”
. Allow’s see what takes place. About David Cenciotti David Cenciotti is an independent reporter based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and also Editor of”The Aviationist”, among the globe’s most renowned and also review armed forces aeronautics blog sites. Considering that 1996, he has actually created for significant around the world publications, consisting of Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, as well as several others, covering air travel, protection, battle, market, cyberwar, knowledge and also criminal activity. He has actually reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia as well as Syria, as well as flown a number of battle aircrafts with various flying force. He is a previous 2nd Lt. of the Italian
Air Force, an exclusive pilot as well as
We had the unique chance to see how the Italian Tornado ECRs team up with the F-35s to carry out a SEAD mission.
“Wild Weasel” is a code name given by the United States Air Force to an aircraft of any type, equipped with anti-radiation missiles and tasked with the SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) mission: destroying the radar and Surface-to-Air Missile installations of enemy air defense systems. Within the Italian Air Force, the Wild Weasel mission is assigned to the 155° Gruppo ETS (Electronic Warfare Tactical Suppression) “Pantere Nere” (“Black Panthers”) of the 6° Stormo (Wing) based in Ghedi Air Base, northern Italy. The squadron operates with the Tornado ECR MLU RET8.
Just like the IDS fleet, that will officially celebrate its 40th anniversary in September this year, the Tornado ECR have, over the years, been modernized since they were first inducted into active service. Between 2013 and 2018, 15 Tornado ECRs were upgraded to the RET8 standard as part of a Mid-Life Update that introduced new avionics sub-systems and a new mission software, and required changes to the weapons management system in order to expand the array of armaments and mission loads the aircraft can carry.
Along with the INS/GPSintegrated NAV system aided by a MMR (Multi-Mode Receiver), the Tornado ECR MLU RET8, designated EA-200D in accordance to the Italian MOD Mission Design Series, is equipped with an upgraded IFF system, and Data-link system, with a new NVG-compatible internal and external lighting systems as well as new MFDs (Multi-Function Displays) in both the pilot and navigator’s cockpits.
“Our primary role is SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) and DEAD (Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses), two kinds of mission we carry out with the Tornado ECR,” says Lt. Col. Michele, Commander of 155° Gruppo ETS, as he welcomes us in his office. “In terms of sensors, the ELS (Emitter Location System) is the onboard system that allows us to identify and geo-localise, in a pretty fast and accurate way, the ground radars that can be associated with the enemy anti-aircraft defenses.” Although somewhat similar, SEAD and DEAD missions are quite different: the missile used for SEAD missions can destroy an enemy radar making it unavailable for a certain period of time. However, if a replacement antenna is available, the air defense site can be restored and put back into service in a matter of a few days (if not hours). The DEAD mission aims at destroying both the radar and the launchers so that the SAM site is rendered inoperative for a longer period.
For DEAD missions, the Tornado’s arsenal has been expanded in 2016 with the addition of the GPS-guided GBU-32 JDAM (Joint Defense Air Munition) bombs that complemented the ARM (Anti Radiation Missiles) used for SEAD missions: the AGM-88B HARM and the AGM-88E AARGM (Advanced Anti Radiation Guided Missile). The latter is a follow-on variant of the HARM (High Speed Anti Radiation Missile), developed under a US and Italian joint acquisition programme led by the US Navy. It features new software, improved ability to geo-locate and neutralize the threats thanks to a multi-mode seeker that embeds a passive radar, and an active millimeter wave sensors coupled with a GPS-aided inertial navigation system.
The new missile was introduced after a successful Operational Test & Evaluation (OT&E) campaign, dubbed “Blazing Shield”, that saw four Tornado ECR deploy to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, in April 2018, to undertake a series of tests and two live firing events. “Although we have received the new AGM-88E, the squadron retains a capability with the AGM-88B: we still maintain the Bravo version as it can be useful is certain scenarios. For this reason we train and fly with both types. For us, the missile is itself a sensor and this is the reason why we fly training missions usually carrying one or two AGM-88s”.
Although a phase-out date has not yet been officially confirmed, the Italian Air Force has already decided that the SEAD/DEAD mission will transition to the F-35A Lightning II when the Tornado ECR is retired.
“The current weapon system still allows us to carry out our mission in an effective way. But we have already started operating jointly with the F-35, that is the future of the Air Force: some of our pilots have already completed the transition to the F-35 and this is important because we are this means that we are pouring some of our experience into the Lightning line.” It’s worth remembering that while it has the ability to locate and track enemy forces, until the AARGM-ER (Extended Range) is integrated on the type, the F-35 still lacks a missile for SEAD missions, although it can use various stand-off weapons, including the GBU-39 SDBs (Small Diameter Bombs) that can be carried inside the weapons bays, to attack ground targets itself. During the transition of the SEAD mission, 155° Gruppo and 13° Gruppo (the squadron that flies the F-35A of 32° Stormo out of Amendola AB) are exploring new ways to exploit the best capabilities both aircraft are able to make available to the Wild Weasel mission.
More details about the 155° Gruppo can be found in the story by this Author “Italian Wild Weasels”, in the July 2022 issue of Combat Aircraft Journal, at newsagents now!
In order to see how the F-35 and the Tornado work together, we were given the opportunity to fly aboard a Tornado ECR during a SEAD mission that involved three Tornados (2 ECRs + 1 IDS) from Ghedi (callsigns PANTE 1-3) and two F-35A of the 13° Gruppo of the 32° Stormo from Amendola (FALCO 31-32). Here’s how it went.
Hunting radars with the Black Panthers
On Feb. 16, 2022 we flew a mission with the 155° Gruppo. The mission was planned to take place inside R48, a restricted airspace located above central Italy, more or less mid-way between the departure airbases of the “Tonkas” and the F-35 Lightnings that joined us to carry out a SEAD mission that could leverage the capabilities of both 4th and 5th generation aircraft. The take-off time was at 13.00Z (14.00LT) with a WALK to the aircraft at 12.00Z so we spent most of the morning in the planning of the mission that, unlike sorties flown with only local assets, also included a Secure Video Conference with the two F-35 pilots from Amendola AB to review the whole plan, including block levels, task sharing and safety measures. For instance, to ensure proper deconflictions, we were assigned block altitudes between FL130 and FL150 (with aircraft separated by 1,000 feet) whereas the F-35s were assigned the block FL160-180. The transit time to the operational area was about 30 minutes, then we had 30-45 minutes “play time” before the RTB phase (lasting another half an hour).
The sensitivity of the mission and the type of assets involved in the sortie don’t allow us to disclose many details about the actual “kinetic” part of the sortie, but what we can say is that the mission was planned so that the F-35s used their sensor cooperating with ECRs in order to locate and ID the targets, share positions witihin platforms and allow Tornados to employ AGM-88: the two ECRs carried two inert Harm missiles, whereas the IDS, flown by a 155° Gruppo pilot, did not carry any armament but it took part in the mission flying the same mission profile as the rest of the ECR. The mission had a two-fold goal: put the SEAD/DEAD tactics to test and improve the 4th/5th generation cooperation. Among the various possible scenarios, a SEAD mission jointly carried out by the two types can see an initial phase where F-35s use their ESM (Electronic Support Measures) capabilities cooperating with ECRs to detect the emissions of the enemy radars, gather the EOB and pass the relevant targeting information to the Tornado ECRs in order to employ AGM-88 from outside the envelope of the SAM batteries. The traditional “Magnum” codeword (used since the first Gulf War by the SEAD aircraft upon firing their anti-radiation missiles) is radioed to announce the launch of an AGM-88.
As said, we can’t provide many more details about the mission other than saying that it was “successful”.
“The integration with the F-35 is crucial. We exploit the F-35’s sensor fusion and the ability of the 5th generation aircraft to disseminate the information to us via Link 16.” Lt. Col. Michele’s words are echoed by the F-35s pilots we had the opportunity to talk to: “The SEAD/DEAD capability is the F-35’s core business. The pilots of our squadron have already gained an enormous experience in the use of the aircraft in this kind of mission, that is part of the training of an F-35 pilot since the very early stages of the training process.” Simulated SEAD/DEAD missions that see the integration of the Tornado ECRs and the F-35s are flown quite frequently. “We train for this kind of mission with legacy assets whenever we have the opportunity. The training profile of the F-35 pilots includes a specific mission that embeds Fighter Integration tactics during which the two assets cooperate using two different air-to-surface weapons”.
The 6° Stormo is the second Italian Air Force wing to operate the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
On Jun. 16, 2022, the F-35A Lightning II MM7366/6-01 (AL-16) was delivered to the 6° Stormo (Wing), at Ghedi Air Base. Escorted by three Tornados, the first Lightning II sporting the markings of the “Diavoli Rossi” (Red Devils) carried out a few flybys with the Tonkas and a low passage before landing at the base located near Brescia, in northern Italy.
The new aircraft was welcomed by the commander of the 6th Wing, Col. Giacomo Lacaita, along with Gen. Alberto Biavati, Commander of the Squadra Aerea (Air Fleet Command) and former pilot of the Red Devils at the time of Desert Storm; Gen. Francesco Vestito, Commander of the I Regione Aerea (1st Air Region) and former 6th Wing commander, as well as civilian authorities.
Our contributor Luciano Zanini was also at Ghedi AB where he took all the images you can find in this article.
With the arrival of the first aircraft (to be followed, in about one month, by a second airframe, MM7367/6-02) the 6° Stormo has become the second Italian Air Force Wing to operate the F-35A; the other one is the 32° Stormo, based at Amendola AB, whose child-unit, the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) has been operating with the 5th generation aircraft since 2016 and achieved IOC (Initial Operational Capability) in 2018.
The official delivery to the 6° Stormo today was just symbolic though: initially, the first F-35s of the “Red Devils” will operate from Amendola, as part of a “pooled” fleet that will enable the aircrews to carry out the training activities on the type until the aircraft eventually relocate to Ghedi.
The Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II will gradually replace the Tornado fleet that this year celebrates 40 years of Italian Air Force service: the IDS variant will be retired first (by 2025 according to the rumors as no official plan has been announced yet), followed, at a later stage, by the Tornado ECR. Both the IDS and ECR operate at Ghedi with the 6° Stormo and its three squadrons: the 102º Gruppo [that is the Tornado OCU (Operational Conversion Unit)], the 154º Gruppo, equipped with the Tornado IDS, and 155º Gruppo equipped with the Tornado ECR.