On Feb. 8, 2012, Malta celebrated the 20th anniversary since the inauguration of Malta International Airport’s Air Terminal. The event was celebrated with a series of aircraft flybys, including those of a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion and a USMC C-130. Four Italian Tornado IDSs belonging to the 6° Stormo, based at Ghedi, performed two flypasts over the airport before landing at MIA.
After spending a night in Luqa, the Tornados left Malta on Feb. 9, around 12.10LT. On departure, one of the jets rendered homage to the local spotters with a very low take off. Brendon Attard was there on both days and took the following interesting pictures.
The Italian “Tonkas” came from Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, where the crews of the 6° Stormo are currently deployed for the seasonal air-to-ground training in the local firing ranges.
“Cross country” flights like that in Malta, are included in the training required by the Italian Tornado crews to keep their capability to operate away from their homebase. As happened during the Air War in Libya, when the “Tonkas” were deployed to Trapani, in Sicily from where they operated until the end of the campaign performing both SCAR (Strike Coordination and Reconnaissance), BAI (Battlefield Air Interdiction), ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) and “buddy” air-to-air refueling missions, carrying a wide variety of weapons and sensors, including the Reccelite pod, the Storm Shadow cruise missiles, GPS-guided JDAMs and LGB Paveways.
In Libya, the Tornado (to be replaced by the F-35 in the future) proved to be an effective platform whose accuracy gave Italy a 79% of reliability in the air strikes, a record higher than that achieved by the French assets who took part to the war (according to NATO).
Italian Tornados do “hit” better.
All photographs by Brendon Attard