On Aug. 3, 2009, a General Atomics Predator A Unmanned Air Vehicle, belonging to the 28° Gruppo of the 32° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF), was satellite-guided from its homebase in Amendola to Decimomannu, where it landed after 8 flight hours (actually there were two aircraft flying: IP05 and IP06). Operation “Shardan 2009″ (lasting until Aug. 7) was aimed to test for the first time the possibility to remotely control the unmanned aircraft. So far both in Italy (where the aircraft was used for monitoring purposes during the recent G8 at L’Aquila) and in Afghanistan the Predator the aircraft has operated from the same base, taking off and landing from either Amendola or Herat (home of the ISAF Joint Air Task Force). With mission “Strega 01″, flown on Aug. 3, from Amendola to Decimomannu, Italy became the only European nation to have the capability to operate “remotely” UAVs like the Predator. This capability will be soon exploited to control the aircraft flying over Afghanistan directly from Italy.
A series of corridors have been drawn to interconnect Amendola with both Decimomannu, Sigonella and Trapani without interfering with the other traffic. However, in the near future, Italy expects also to freely fly new Predator B, that should be taken on charge by the end of this year, over the Mediterranean Sea, within the Italian airspace. The B version is capable of flying at FL500 above the other traffic, meaning that, at that altitude, it can cross the airspace between the Transit Corridors. The aircraft will be also used for for border and immigration control, anti-terrorism, event surveillance, etc.
Ugo Crisponi was in Decimomannu on Aug. 3 to observe the arrival of the Predator and took the following pictures of the event.
Below, the profile by Ugo Crisponi of AVIATIONGRAPHIC.COM, showing the Predator of the Italian Air Force.
As explained in a previous post, Dutch military helicopters have been deploying to Frosinone, Italy, homebase of the 72° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) to conduct training activities in the mountainous areas located around the Italian airport. Tactical low level flights are needed to keep the currencies required to be employed in Afghanistan. Following the AH-64D Apache that visited Frosinone at the beginning of April, 3 CH-47 Chinook of 298 Sqn and 3 AS535U2 Cougar of the 300 Sqn of the KLu (Koninklijke Luchtmacht, the Royal Netherlands Air Force) deployed to the Italian airbase during the first two weeks of June during the operation named “High Blaze” that involved 90 military. The CH-47 performed, on average, 2 daily missions lasting around 3.5 FH (Fligh Hours) while the AS535U2 performed 3 daily 2 FH missions. As usual, when deployed to Frosinone, the Dutch detachment is autonomous; the 72° Stormo provides only the logistic support (food, fire-fighting, ATC services, and Force Protection).
On Jun. 11, Giovanni Maduli was given the possibility to visit the Dutch detachment and take the following pictures.
On Jul. 13, a Falcon 900EX of the 93° Gruppo, serialled MM62171, rolled out at Rome Ciampino with a special colour scheme applied to celebrate the 100.000 flight hours of the locally-based 31° Stormo on the Falcon 50 and Falcon 900. Giovanni Maduli attended the ceremony and took the following interesting pictures of the new Special Colour of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF).
On Jul. 10, 2009, a Primera Air Boeing 737-700, with registration TF-JXG, flying as GX-362 flight, from Zakinthos (Greece) to Dublin (Ireland), with 153 passengers and 6 crew members, was escorted by a single F-2000 (not two as some sources reported) of the 4° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) after the crew requested an emergency landing in Rome Fiumicino airport, due to a technical problem. The airplane landed safely on runway 16L, that had been kept sterile for 40 minutes for the emergency arrival with all other traffic “diverted” on runway 16R, at 16.51LT. According to the information released by the ItAF, “Typhoon 99″ was ordered to intercept the aircraft, after the B737 had made an unauthorised descent from cruising altitude to FL200. The Italian authorities initially requested the flight to divert to Naples airport, but the commander refused to land in Capodichino as it required a longer runway. Since L’Aquila and Rome were interested in that day by the G8 summit and a NFZ (No Fly Zone) was active, the Italian COFA (Comando Operativo Forze Aeree) scrambled a Typhoon to intercept the “zombie”.
Image courtesy of Alenia Aeronautica
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