Italian F-35As formally integrated in National Air Defense System

Since March 1, 2018, the two F-35A fighter jets of the Italian Air Force 32nd Wing of Amendola (32nd Stormo) is formally taking part in the country's National Air Defense System, the IAF said on March 5. The F35As fighter jets are now fully operational within the Airspace Surveillance Service (SSSA), a "fundamental institutional task of the Italian Air Force".

Italian F 35As formally integrated n National Air Defense System 001 A 32nd Wing F-35A fighter jet
(Credit: Aeronautica Militare)

"Validation of this capacity was obtained through an intense and complex training of the IAF crews and technical staff and following numerous tests carried out with positive results in full synergy and coordination with other italian units in charge of Air Defense tasks," the service added.

Italy’s first F-35A Lightning II, known as AL-1 and assembled at the Cameri Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility, flew for the first time in October 2015. According to the official U.S. government program of record, Italy intends to procure a total of 90 F-35s. Under the current plan, Aeronautica Militare is programmed to receive 60 F-35A CTOLs and 15 F-35B STOVLs, while Marina Militare is programmed to acquire 15 F-35B STOVLs.

This new fleet of 90 F-35s would replace Italy’s 253 Panavia Tornados, AMX Fighter Bombers, and AV8B Harriers, resulting in enhanced operational capability, streamlined logistics and maintenance, common training curriculum, and lower operating and sustainment costs. 

Based at the Amendola Air Base, the 32nd Stormo, the first unit in Europe to induct the F-35A, also carries out operational and technical training with Predator RPAS in order to perform national and coalition ISTAR operations.