Total air superiority with a bit of swing role: the Italian Typhoons have completed their first Red Flag

The Italian F-2000s have conducted 115 missions logging 180 flying hours in the Nevada Test and Training Range.

On Mar. 11, RF 16-2 came to an end.

Among the more than 70 combat planes that took part in the exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, there were, for the first time ever, also 8 Eurofighter Typhoons of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force).

The F-2000s (as the aircraft are designated in Italy), belonging to the 4° Stormo, based at Grosseto, and 36° Stormo (Wing) based at Gioia del Colle – even though personnel taking part in the mission was from all the units flying the Typhoon, including the 37° Stormo, based at Trapani, had left Italy on Feb. 19, accompanied by two KC-767A tankers with the 14° Stormo from Pratica di Mare, and three C-130J Super Hercules with the 46^ Brigata Aerea (Air Brigade) from Pisa.

The Italians mainly focused in the air-to-air role taking part to the RF sorties with a typical configuration that saw the pilots wear the Helmet Mounted Symbology System (HMSS) and the aircraft carry the double 750 kilograms wing tanks and one Airborne Instrumentation Subsystem (AIS) pod used for ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation) activities.

Typhoons Red Flag pilot

In the air-superiority mission, the Italians enjoyed the opportunity to train in a scenario made particularly deadly by the presence of F-15, F-16, AT-38 and A-4 playing the Aggressors role as part of “best Red Air in the world,” as well as some cutting edge anti-aircraft warfare.

Typhoons Red Flag night

Furthermore, the complex scenario foreseen by the Red Flag exercise provided an opportunity to further develop the swing-role capability of the aircraft: three of the Typhoons deployed at Nellis AFB were Tranche 2 examples that embedded the P1E(B) upgrades and were loaded with the latest SRP (Software Release Package).

Indeed, these Typhoons carried also two inert GBU-16 Paveway II LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and the Litening targeting pod in order to validate the tactics being developed since the aircraft started the OT&E (Operational Testing and Evaluation) last year.

Typhoons Red Flag taxi

However, as explained by the Italian detachment commander Col. Marco Bertoli, the Italian Air Force does not plan to employ the Typhoon is the air-to-surface role but in particular scenarios: the swing role is being primarily developed to support the platform’s export capabilities and help the industry promoting the aircraft in particular regions (like Kuwait).

This is the very first participation of the ItAF Typhoon fleet to the Red Flag exercise, even though the aircraft have taken part in real combat operations in Libya and have undertaken air defense duties in Iceland and the Baltic States.

Image credit: ItAF

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About David Cenciotti 3629 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.