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.”
RAF Tornado GR4s from 617 “The Dambusters” Squadron, belonging to the 904 Expeditionary Air Wing at Kandahar, have helped to defend US and Afghan forces from an insurgent attack in Helmand province, as part of a marathon mission lasting over seven hours.
Two of the RAF Lossiemouth-based “Tonkas”, had already spent 3 hours providing armed overwatch for British and American troops when the emergency call came in. The bombers, flying a CAS (Close Air Support) mission, were requested to fly 300 nautical miles north west, near the Turkmenistan border to provide support to a joint United States and Afghan National Security Forces patrol under repeated small arms fire (a condition known as TIC – Troops in Contact).
The British bombers conducted a typical high speed – low altitude passage over the insurgents: a show of force at 100 feet and 500 knots that persuaded the Taliban to retire to the cover allowing the ground patrol to withdraw to safety.
The 617 Squadron Tornados were airborne for three hours prior to the call for assistance and the entire marathon seven-hour 45-minute flight required four aerial refuelings worth 20,000 litres of fuel each.
According to the UK’s MoD, in the same week, the squadron also conducted one “show of presence” (a higher-level flypast designed to indicate the presence of a supporting combat plane) and four lower-level shows of force.
617 Sqn’s crews are currently flying in Afghanistan with the new Helmet Mounted Cueing System (HMCS), a system that projects symbology on the helmet’s visor so the pilot can read the flight parameters and other information of interest, regardless where he is looking.