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
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).
Exercise “Blue Flag”, taking place over a vast area of southern Israel from Nov. 24 to 28 and involving about 100 aircraft from the host nation, U.S., Italy and Greece, is the largest joint-military exercise in Israel’s history.
Its aim is to improve cooperation among the participating air forces and train together in a wide range of missions, including Defensive, Offensive Counter-Air and Close Air Support.
On Apr. 23, a RSAF Tornado upgraded under the TSP (Tornado Sustainment Program), have made a stopover in Malta. The Saudi strike fighter, wearing the typical desert color scheme with the RAF roundel and a TSP flag on the tail, was one of the final two upgraded to the standard that will enable the RSAF to operate the medium-range strike fighters until at least 2020.
TSP includes upgrades needed to employ a wide array of precision guided munitions: Brimstone, Storm Shadow, Paveway/Enhanced Paveway-series bombs etc. In other words, RSAF TSP Tornados are quite similar to RAF Tornado GR4s.
On Apr. 25, two two-seater Eurofighter Typhoons on delivery from BAe Warton made a stopover in Malta.
Image credit: Brendon Attard
The two RSAF Typhoon jets in the typical two-tone color scheme followed the same route staged for the delivery flight of the previous examples: Warton – Toulouse (France).
They departed from Malta on Apr. 26, destination Taif airbase (reportedly via Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt).
AMX and Tornado combat planes conducted joint drills with jets of the Israeli Air Force from Ovda airbase, southern Israel.
The two-week exercise saw the Italian planes fly in a simulated air war scenario: the training included sorties against aerial threats, live firing against ground targets, and very low level flying.
The Italian pilots enjoyed the oppotunity to share their experience with the combat proven Israeli crews and operate at much lower altitude than that allowed in Italy.
Along with the AMXs and Tornados, the F-16s of the 140 Sqn “Golden Eagle” from Nevatim and F-15s of the 133 Sqn “Knights of the Twin Tail” from Tel Nof.
The last of series of exercises that have seen planes of both nations cooperate during reciprocal visits reaffirms the strong ties between Rome and Tel Aviv in the defense field.
On Jul. 19, 2012, Israel’s Ministry of Defense signed a contract worth 1 billion USD for 30 Italian M-346 Master as replacement of the aging Air Force’s fleet of A-4 Skyhawks, used as advanced trainers for combat pilots designated for fighter jets.
On Jul. 20, it was announced that Israel’s IAI will supply the Italian Air Force with two Gulfstream G550 Eitam conformal airborne early warning (CAEW) aircraft as part of “a larger Government-to-Government agreement between Israel and Italy [worth 1 billion USD] that includes aircraft, engines, maintenance, logistics, simulators and training, provided also by other Israeli and international companies.”