"Cleared hot": the Italian AMX light combat planes to be cleared to carry (and use) bombs in Afghanistan

As the air war in Afghanistan winds down, hitting a 3-year low in terms of combat sorties, Italy is about to lift one of the national caveats that has denied the Air Force’s AMX light bombers deployed to Herat, to carry PGM (Precision Guided Munitions) in combat.

In fact, although being able to carry bombs to support ground troops, the Italian AMXs, that emerged as some of the most cost-effective assets during the Air War in Libya and, much earlier, during the Allied Force in Serbia and Kosovo, were not allowed to carry any LGB (Laser Guided Bomb) or GPS-guided JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) .

So far, Italian ground troops in in trouble in Afghanistan have relied on AMX’s gun or….U.S. air support.

Since they could not carry bombs, AMX have mainly conducted reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan, using the Reccelite pod.

Following the experience in Libya, where the Italian planes have largely made use of bombs to protect Libyans threatened by pro-Gaddafi forces, in the last few days, the Minister of Defense Giampaolo Di Paola, has said before the joint defense committees of both houses  that the MoD is willing to use the aircraft “without limitations.”

The use of precision bombs will not change the ROE (Rules of Engagement) said Gen. Biagio Abrate, Joint Chief of Staff, who added: “In Libya, we dropped the bombs and we did well.”

The AMX will be allowed to carry the GBU-32 JDAMs, the GBU-16 Paveway, and the Lizard guidance kit that enables 500-lbs Mk82 bombs to hit the target illuminated by the laser.

Abrate also explained that the MoD is willing to provide weapons to the Predator UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) that in Afghanistan is used for reconnaissance duties only. Both the Predator A and the B (Reaper), that was used in Libya to boost NATO’s ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) capabilities, can carry bombs even if Italy has not procured missiles and PGMs for them yet.

An AMX taking off from Nellis AFB during a Red Flag (credit: Italian Air Force)



About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.