Tag Archives: Eurofighter Typhoon

First ever swing role course on the T-346 prepares Italian Air Force pilots to the Typhoon and Tornado

The Italian Air Force has recently begun training its first Eurofighter and Tornado pilots on the Alenia Aermacchi T-346A at Lecce airbase, in southeastern Italy.

At the beginning of September, the Italian Air Force has launched the very first training course on the T-346A (M-346 “Master”) at 61° Stormo (Wing) based at Lecce-Galatina.

The course, that started 6 months ahead of schedule, is a swing role class held by 212° Gruppo (Squadron) and attended by four Italian pilots who will convert to the Typhoon and Tornado combat fleets upon successful completion of the training, which aims to develop the information management and aircraft handling skills of future pilots before they are assigned to the OCUs (Operational Conversion Units).

M-346 air-to-air two

The four Italian pilots will be trained for 9 months in accordance with a new “experimental syllabus” designed by the squadron’s Instructor Pilots (IPs) in the last months and currently based on 170 training events, 50 percent of those carried out in flight and the remaining 50 percent in the simulator.

In fact, with the “Master,” the training syllabus can be split 50-50 between ground and air segment: half of the flight hours is flown in the simulator and the remaining half is flown on the actual plane with a significant cost reduction. Indeed, thanks to an integrated training system (ITS), student pilots can attend ground lessons and practice the training missions in extremely realistic simulators several times before their knowledge and skills are evaluated by an IP, both at the sim and in flight.

M-346 break

The T-346A is a LIFT (Lead-In Fighter Trainer) with impressive performance, cutting edge human-machine interface and a lot of interesting technologies such as a full digital cockpit, HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) commands, carefree handling, VCI (Vocal Control Inputs), a Helmet Mounted Display as well as the ability to simulate the flight characteristics of other aircraft and to replicate a wide array of sensors and weapons as if these were actually installed on the aircraft.

The plane itself is just the air segment of the ITS that includes ground-based facilities, academics, simulators, and mission planning and debriefing stations developed to fill the gap between the flight schools and the operational unit and to prepare the pilots to operate Gen. 4th and 5th multirole aircraft in high-threat/high performance environments.

M-346 Simulator

Indeed, while current pilots are being prepared for the Typhoon or Tornado aircraft, in the near future, courses will be aimed at training attendees destined to the F-35 Lightning II.

Besides the Italians, pilots from the Royal Netherlands Air Force, are going to undertake the LIFT course with the T-346A at Lecce, along with the Polish Air Force pilots whose first of 16 pilots will start training on the Master with the ItAF in November.

The Polish Air Force is expected to take delivery of the first of 8 M-346A, selected in 2014, by the second half of 2016.

M-346 air-to-air

New photo shows Eurofighter Typhoon carrying Storm Shadow cruise missiles during latest trials

Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft is expanding its air-to-surface capabilities with air-launched cruise missiles.

The image in this post was taken at Decimomannu airbase, Italy, on Sept. 10.

It shows the Italian Eurofighter Typhoon instrumented production aircraft 2 (IPA2) carrying two MBDA’s Storm Shadow cruise missiles during the latest weapons trials in Sardinia.

The MBDA Storm Shadow missile is a conventional, stealthy, 1.300 kg standoff weapon (over 5-mt long), designed for use against very high value targets in all-weather conditions.

The missile is already in service with the RAF and Italian Tornados, that have extensively used it in combat during Libya Air War. The missile will further enhance the swing role capabilities of the Typhoon and may be a weapon of interest for all those operators that use (or plan to) the aircraft in the air-to-surface role. Including Kuwait, that has become the latest country to select the Typhoon and is expected to operate 28 planes, the “most advanced Eurofighters yet.”

Image credit: Giampaolo Mallei


These Unique Photographs Show Some of The Coolest Radom Airshow 2015 Participants At Night

Have a look at these cool shots

The images in this post were taken at night after the Radom airshow 2015 had ended.

The author of the images, Wojciech Mazurkiewicz, working as a member of the Radom Airshow’s press team, told us that shooting the aircraft at night was extremely satisfying and quite exceptional: this is the first time in history such a photo shoot has been allowed.

Radom airshow night

Radom airshow night_02

After long negotiations with Lt. Col. Artur Goławski, the spokesperson for the event, Mazurkiewicz, along with the photographers of the press team, got the clearance to take the unique night photos. As it happens sometimes – not everything went smooth. In fact, due to a lack of communication within the chain of command, the guards securing the aircraft did not receive any information related to the photographers presence.

Radom airshow night_04

However, after 15 minutes, the issue was solved and the photographers were allowed to take the shots of the aircraft taking part in the Radom Air Show dynamic displays. Interestingly, only 3 photographers had a chance to take the night shots of the “sleeping” aircraft meaning that the images in this post are quite unique.

Radom airshow night_07

General public rarely gets up close and personal with the aircraft taking part in the flying display as these airframes are usually parked away from the audience area for safety reasons.

Radom airshow night_12

Radom airshow night_14

Radom airshow night_18

Radom airshow night_19

Radom airshow night_21

Radom airshow night_23

Radom airshow night_24

Radom airshow night_25

Image credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz


The Italian Air Force showcases its most advanced aircraft and capabilities at Rivolto airshow.

Typhoons, KC-767, T-346, HH-101 and much more among the highlights of the largest Italian airshow this year.

Last weekend, the Italian Air Force celebrated the Frecce Tricolori‘s 55th anniversary with an airshow at Rivolto airbase, in northeastern Italy, attended by 450,000 spectators and featuring more than 100 planes, helicopters and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and 11 national display teams.

Obviously, the leading role in the airshow was played by the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) that showcased its most advanced “hardware” and capabilities.

The Italian Eurofighter Typhoons took the stage not only with a stunning solo display by the F-2000 (as the aircraft is designated by the ItAF) of the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (Test Wing) from Pratica di Mare but also by escorting an Alitalia A320 and an A330 in an air defense role demo aimed at showing what the aircraft do more frequently.

Alitalia +Typhoon

Image credit: Alessandro Fucito

In fact, Italy has been the very first (and the only one, for the moment) nation to provide so-called IAP (Interim Air Policing) tasks over four foreign airspaces: Iceland (on rotation), Slovenia, Albania (task shared with the Hellenic Air Force) and Baltic States (where first rotation ended at the end of August, when the four Italian F-2000s successfully completed their 8-month NATO Baltic Air Patrol deployment to Lithuania, logging about 900 flying hours, 40 Alpha-Scrambles (alert takeoffs), more than 160 Tango-Scrambles (training scrambles) and several training missions).

As already mentioned here, during the airshow, the ItAF unveiled two special colored Typhoons belonging to the 10° Gruppo (Squadron) of 36° Stormo (Wing), based at Gioia del Colle: two aircraft (MM7297 and 7308), with camouflaged tail, tricolored rudder and a large black rearing horse on white cloud, symbol of Italy’s top WWI ace Francesco Baracca, performed a flyover along with a replica of the SPAD XIII, the French biplane fighter aircraft flown by Baracca that inspired the new special color scheme.

Typhoon Cavallino

Image credit: Alessandro Fucito

Aerial refueling is another capability that Italy is continuing to develop to improve power projection: the Italian Boeing KC-767A, the first international tanker to successfully complete aerial refueling of a U.S. Air Force F-35A on Jul 29, took part in the display flying over Rivolto airbase leading a formation of two  Typhoons and two Tornado IDS and two AMX bombers that had previously performed a simulated attack on the base. A real first was the HAAR (Helicopter Air-to-Air Refueling) demo showing a brand new AgustaWestland HH-101A Caesar of the 15° Stormo (Wing) trailing a KC-130J tanker of the 46^ Brigata Aerea from Pisa: a confirmation that the new CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) helicopter that the ItAF will use for Special Forces support, Personnel Recovery in hostile environments, MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation) and SMI (Slow Mover Intercept) missions will soon start aerial refueling certification testing.

HH101 refuel

Other Italian helicopters taking part in the flying display were also the HH-139A multipurpose combat chopper and the new AW.149 medium-lift military helicopter.

AW149 front

Another interesting display was the one of the T-346A (the Italian Air Force designation for the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master advanced jet trainer) of the RSV from Pratica di Mare that showed the stunning performance and maneuvering capabilities of the dual-engine LIFT (Lead-In to Fighter Trainer) jet selected by Italy, Poland, Israel and Singapore.

T-346A Legend 06 take off

Dealing with pilot training, one of the highlights of the airshow was a unique “Legend formation,” made of all the most important training planes in the history of the Italian Air Force, from the G.59, to the T-6 Texan, to the MB.326 to the above mentioned T-346, the latest and most advanced one, flying with the 61° Stormo at Lecce Galatina airbase and used for advanced pre-operative training of the Italian, Dutch (and soon Polish) pilots destined to the 4th and 5th Generation combat planes.

Legend formation abeam

339CD + 326

Although the most exciting part of the airshow was the “dynamic” flying display, some interesting things could be found among the participants in static display. Among them, the mock-up of the T-344 V.E.S.P.A. (Very Efficient Smart Power Aircraft), an ItAF indigenous project based on the Caproni C-22J light jet-powered aircraft that will be used for basic ab initio jet training.

The P.1HH HammerHead UAS (Unmanned Aerial System), that the ItAF has already procured (three UAS systems, consisting of six aircraft and three ground stations and complete with ISR configuration, that will be delivered early next year), was also in static display sporting the markings and code of 28° Gruppo (Squadron) belonging to 32° Stormo from Amendola, the ItAF’s UAV unit.


Another aircraft that caught the interest of the public was the M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) a trainer based on the M-311 and expected to enter service with the Italian Air Force between 2017-2020 to replace the aging MB.339. The M-345 HET was selected to be the next aircraft flown by the Frecce Tricolori display team.

Newsworthy, the Frecce Tricolori, that sported the new livery introduced in 2015 for the 55th anniversary, presented a new maneuver dubbed “Scintilla Tricolore” (Tricolored Spark) during their final display.

MB339PAN Lorenzo Cenciotti

Image credit: Lorenzo Cenciotti

As already said, Italy’s largest airshow in 2015 featured some interesting foreign participants, including the Royal Saudi Air Force Saudi Hawks and Finnish Air Force Midnight Hawks display teams and the Polish Mig-29 and Belgian F-16 solos, as well as the AH-64 Apache of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Demo Team.

AH-64 inverted

Midnight Hawks taxi

Saudi Hawks landing

Interestingly, for the first time ever, Rivolto airshow was preceded by a Spotter Day attended by about 300 photographers who were given the possibility to get shots of the arrivals and rehearsals. Kudos to the Italian Air Force and its Public Information Office for this much appreciated initiative.

Mig-29 panning

All images by David Cenciotti unless otherwise stated.


Exclusive Photos: The First Ever F-35 assembled internationally makes maiden flight

Designated AL-1, the first F-35A assembled internationally flew today from Cameri airbase, Italy.

On Sept. 7, the first F-35A assembled outside the US, made its very first flight from Cameri airbase.

The aircraft, designated AL-1, is the first of eight aircraft currently being assembled at the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri, in northwestern Italy. As already explained in a previous post, the FACO will assemble the first Italian F-35As and the remaining F-35A and F-35B for the Italian Air Force and Navy, and build F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

First F-35 Italy

The 5th generation multirole aircraft was given the low-visibility roundel and markings of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), as well as the 32° Stormo (Wing) emblem and code “32-01.”

During the flight, that lasted about 1,5 hours, the F-35A was escorted by a Eurofighter Typhoon.

The Aviationist’s contributor Simone Bovi took the exclusive images that you can find in this post.

First F-35 Italy escorted

The first F-35A is expected to be delivered to the Italian Air Force by the end of the year.