A limited fire inside a bomb range in Italy sparked anti-militarist protest in Sardinia, Italy. But, as usual, in spite of debate, many want the Armed Forces to remain on the island.
On Sept. 4, an inert bomb dropped by a German Tornado fighter bomber sparked a fire inside the Capo Frasca firing range, located in southwestern Sardinia island, in Italy.
The German “Tonka” was involved in a routine pre-planned firing training sortie from Decimomannu, the airbase that is home of the AWTI (Air Weapons Training Installation).
Established 55 years ago by the NATO partnership of Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Canada, the AWTI exploits various ranges located on the eastern and western coasts of Sardinia, including an ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation) range where air-to-air missions and DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) are remotely monitored and recorded, and an air-to-ground bombing range at Capo Frasca, where pilots can train dropping both dumb and smart weaponry.
On Sept. 4 the rather exceptional fire, favored by the windy conditions, burned 30 hectares of Mediterranean scrub within the 1,314 hectares of the whole bomb range, enough to spark controversy.
The mishap was used by some politicians to fuel the protest against Sardinian military ranges, that are normally not used during the Summer period (the Capo Frasca range opened again on Sept. 2) to not damage tourism.
However, whilst part of the locals is against military installations and doesn’t want the Italian Armed Forces to use large areas of the island for their training activities, there is another large part of the local population who openly support the military and are thankful for their service against wildfires, that plague the island in the hot season, and for providing Search And Rescue at sea and in mountainous areas (981 missions flown alone by the Decimomannu-based 670 Squadriglia of the Italian Air Force since it was established).
Furthermore, there is a large and wise part of the population who believes that those servicemen that use Sardinian paradisiacal but deserted areas to train or test new weapons systems, are an extremely important resource for the whole territory as they bring much money to otherwise starving local businesses.
Anyway, the anti-military movement, who advocates (among all the other things) the closure of the range because of the danger of explosions and fires has achieved a little success: the Italian Ministry of Defense has temporarily suspended activities on the Capo Frasca training range until Sept. 15. Still, because of the importance of the range, one of the few remaining ones in Italy where live, inert weapons can be dropped, and considered that firing activities have already been halved in the last decade, it is quite unlikely they will obtain something more.
In the meanwhile, the Italian Air Force has strengthened its range’s firefighting equipment.
Image credit: Top: German Air Force; Bottom: Italian Air Force
More than 40 Typhoons belonging to three European Air Forces have deployed to Decimomannu airbase in the last few weeks to take advantage of the local ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Installation) ranges.
Since mid June, more than 40 Eurofighter Typhoons belonging to the German, Italian and Austrian Air Force have deployed to Decimomannu airbase, in Italy, to undertake training activities in the large training ranges surrounding Sardinia island.
Decimomannu is the home of the AWTI (Air Weapons Training Installation) established 55 years ago by the NATO partnership of Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Canada. The AWTI exploits an ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation) range where air-to-air missions and DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) are remotely monitored and recorded, and an air-to-ground bombing range at Capo Frasca, where pilots can train dropping both dumb and smart weaponry.
Currently, the base is mainly used by the aircraft belonging to the Italian and German Air Force but it often hosts aircraft of other air forces involved in training campaigns and multinational exercises.
From Jun. 12 to 26 the Luftwaffe deployed 23 Typhoons (including four two-seaters) from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 73 “Steinhoff” from Laage. Some 8 Typhoons are still operating from “Deci.”
Along with the GAF Typhoons, BAE and GFD deployed two A-4 Skyhawks (N431FS white and N262WL camo) and two Learjets (Learjet 31A and Learjet 35A) to support the firing training of the Eurofighters.
Flying with the AACMI (Autonomous ACMI) pods, the Germans have conducted Combat Air Patrol, air interception and aerial combat training, operating also with the Italian Typhoons.
From Jun. 12 to Jul. 3, Italian Air Force has deployed 13 Typhoons belonging to the 4°, 36° and 37° Stormo (Wing) – the units of the Aeronautica Militare equipped with the European fighter jet – to undertake air-to-air combat training.
This was not the first time the Italian Air Force simultaneously deployed all its currently equipped squadrons to Deci: last year the 9° Gruppo (Squadron) and 20° OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) of the 4° Stormo at Grosseto, the 10° and 12° Gruppo of the 36° Stormo at Gioia del Colle and the 18° Gruppo of the 37° Stormo at Trapani took advantage of the ACMI range to improve their skills in the air defense field.
Five Austrian Typhoons are currently based at Deci. The aircraft, belonging to the Austrian Air Surveillance Wing from Zeltweg, have arrived on Jul. 9.
The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Caglieri has visited the airbase several times during the last few weeks, taking all the photographs you can find in this post.
MB.339CD deployed at Decimomannu airbase sports 32° Stormo code and tail badge.
Spotted recently at Decimomannu airbase where it deployed along with several other aircraft of the same type for the annual firing campaign, the MB.339CD MM55088/32-161 is the only known one of the few to carry the codes and badges of the 32° Stormo (Wing), a unit based at Amendola and equipped with the AMX fighter bomber.
Most probably, the aircraft got the markings during a temporary assignment with the 632° Squadriglia Collegamenti (Liaison Flight), depending from the 32° Stormo at Amendola (hence the 32-xx code).
The unique MB.339CD has now returned to the 212° Gruppo (Squadron) with the 61° Stormo from Lecce Galatina airport, and it is taking part to the deployment alongside that Wing’s contingent.
The 339CD is the advanced, digitalised version of the MB.339A trainer. It is used for pre-operative training, as well as for Slow Movers Interception tasks and it is theoretically capable to perform the light attack role.
Last month, Sardinia Island, Italy, was hit by a tornado, dubbed “Cleopatra” that cost the life of 16 people including 4 children.
Aircraft, helicopters and personnel belonging to all the Italian Armed Forces and Corps joined the relief efforts throughout the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Among the units called to support the rescue operations there was also the 670^ Squadriglia, based at Decimomannu airbase, with its AB-212 helicopter.
The 670^ Squadriglia is tasked with Search And Rescue and its crews daily train to undertake these missions in the mountains or (considered the location of the base on an island), more frequently, at sea.
In Summer 2013, The Aviationist was invited to take part in a training mission in the Gulf of Cagliari. Alessandro Caglieri and Gian Luca Onnis boarded the AB.212 helicopter and shot the images and footage of the helicopter winching ops.
Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis and Alessandro Caglieri
Eurofighter and Alenia Aermacchi have released some images of the initial flight trials that began on Nov. 27, by the Alenia Aermacchi Flight Test Center at Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, Italy. Such tests, supported by BAE Systems and Cassidians, are aimed to demonstrate that the air-launched cruise missile, already in service with both the Italian Air Force and Royal Air Force Tornado bombers (that used them in the 2011 Libya Air War), can be safely carried by the Typhoon.
The testing campaign involves the Instrumented Production Aircraft 2 (IPA2) updated to the Phase 1 Enhancement standard. The aircraft will conduct flutter tests and air data system large store interference assessment to validate the integration of the new weapon that will give the aircraft a significant capability to employ the stealthy, long-range precision weapon against high value, well defended targets, day or night, in all-weather conditions.
According to Eurofighter, the 1.300 kg standoff weapon (over 5-mt long) will be available to the 7 Typhoon operators (Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman) from 2015 when the Eurofighter Typhoon Phase 2 Enhancements become operational.
Image credit: Eurofighter/Luigino Caliaro