Tag Archives: Italian Air Force

Italian Air Force bids farewell to the HH-3F Pelican C-SAR helicopter

The Italian Air Force has retired the HH-3F Pelican after 37 years of active service. The helicopter was replaced by the HH-139A.

On Sept. 26, with a ceremony held at Pratica di Mare airport, near Rome, Italy, at the presence of the CinC of the Air Staff Gen. Pasquale Preziosa, the Italian Air Force retired the HH-3F Pelican after 37 years of active service, 185,000 flying hours and 7,000 saved lives in Search And Rescue missions (and C-SAR ones) flown across Italy and abroad.

HH-3F side

The HH-3F helicopter, a variant of the Sikorsky S-61R produced by Agusta and in service with the 15° Stormo (Wing), will be replaced by the HH-139A, the AgustaWestland’s multipurpose chopper that the Italian Air Force has purchased in 10 examples.

HH-139A taxi

The HH-139A is equipped with a brand new heavy duty landing gear, secure communications suite, integrated defensive aids suite, hoist, search light, wire cutters, nose mounted FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red), cargo hook, loudspeaker system and emergency floatation gear and any other oddity required to perform “convetional” search and rescue, as well as Combat SAR missions in place of the venerable AB-212 and HH-3F.

The last flight was conducted by HH-3F MM81337 “15-25″ as the images in this post, taken at Pratica di Mare by The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli show.

HH-3F and HH-139A

Image credit: The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli.

 

Following bomb threat two Italian Typhoon jets perform supersonic scramble to escort Lebanese Airbus 320

Two Italian Eurofighter Typhoon in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) were scrambled to intercept and escort MEA214 flight that reported a bomb threat aboard.

Two loud sonic booms were heard at around 1.45PM LT in Central Italy as two Italian Air Force Typhoons accelerated to supersonic speed to intercept Middle East Airlines 214 flight, an Airbus 320 from Geneva to Beirut.

The two fighter planes, belonging to the 4° Stormo (Wing) from Grosseto, in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service round the clock together with those of the 36° Stormo from Gioia del Colle, were dispatched to intercept the Lebanese plane that, once flying over Bari, in southeastern Italy, radioed the Italian Air Traffic Control the request to land at Rome Fiumicino airport, because of a bomb threat.

The two armed Typhoons intercepted the Airbus 320 T7-MRC and escorted it to landing on runway 16R at Fiumicino airport, then circled at low altitude over the sea near the airport, until security forces surrounded the plane and brought it to an isolated parking slot.

The subsequent inspection did not find any bomb aboard the plane.

The MEA214 route could be tracked on Flightradar24.com as the following screenshot shows.

MEA214

Image credit: screenshot by FR24.com

 

German Tornado drops ordnance on bomb range in Sardinia sparking fire (and anti-militarist protest)

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.

Even if several countries’ air arms take advantage of the local facilities during training campaigns, national exercises (like Spring Flag) and multi-national drills, the base is mainly used by the Italian and German Air Force squadrons, which regularly deploy their planes to “Deci” to improve their air-to-air and air-to-surface skills and prepare for real operations.

As done a couple of months ago, when 40 Italian, Austrian and German Eurofighter Typhoon jets operated from the Sardinian airbase.

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.

Capo Frasca

Image credit: Top: German Air Force; Bottom: Italian Air Force

 

New photo show moment two Italian Tornado jets collided mid-air sparking huge fireball

Two Italian Air Force Tornado jets have crashed after colliding midair in central east Italy. While search of the four missing pilots continues, here are two images taken moments after the aircraft collided.

On Aug. 19, two Tornado aircraft, belonging to the 6° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), crashed after colliding midair near Ascoli Piceno, in central east Italy. The fate of the four crew members (each aircraft is flown by a pilot and a navigator) is still unknown.

Two rescue helicopters of the Italian Air Force (an HH-3F and an HH-139) and reconnaissance planes are involved in the rescue efforts.

Very few details about the incident have been disclosed other than the two aircraft, had departed from Ghedi airbase for a pre-planned, low level training mission.

According to the Italian Air Force spokeperson, the four pilots ejected (since the locator beacon signals for both ejection seats have been received) but none has been found and rescued yet.

The Italian State TV RAI aired a couple of images obtained by a witness who took some shots of the fireball generated by the collision of the two fighter bombers. No parachute can be spotted in the low quality sequence (most probably taken with a smartphone’s camera).

TG1 screenshot 2

Mid-air collisions between military jets occur every now and then for various reasons. In 2012, two RAF Tornado GR4s were involved in a similar incident which cost the life of three British officers.

Last year, two U.S. F-16C of the D.C. Air National Guard collided during a night training mission.

As already explained on this blog, there is always the risk of a mid-air collision when two fast jets fly in a tactical formation or somehow close to each other.

Image credit: screenshots from TG1

 

Royal International Air Tattoo 2014 highlights

Here are some of the highlights of RAF Fairford’s Royal International Air Tattoo 2014.

Even though the F-35B Lightning II aircraft could not cross the Pond to take part in the world’s biggest military airshow, the Royal International Air Tattoo 2014 at RAF Fairford, UK, Jul. 17 – 19 did not fail to attract some interesting visitors.

Here are some of those military aircraft and display teams, shot during their demo flights, arrival or departure, by photographer Estelle Calleja.

A-7 HAF

Last Greek’s A-7 Special Color “Olympus”

 

AH-64 Apache

Army Air Corps AH-64 Apache

 

AMX

Italian Air Force AMX ACOL

 

C-27J

Italian Air Force C-27J

 

F-16 BAF

Belgian Air Force F-16 Demo

 

Frecce Tricolori

Frecce Tricolori aerobatic demo team

 

ItAF Typhoon

Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon

 

Patrouille de France

Patrouille de France

 

Patrouille Suisse

Patrouille Suisse

 

SAF F-18

Swiss Air Force F/A-18

 

Solo Turk

Turkish Air Force F-16 demo “Solo Türk”

 

SpAF Hornet

Spanish Air Force F/A-18

 

Su-22

Polish Air Force Su-22

 

Super Hornet

Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet

All images by Estelle Calleja