The Italian Air Force Has Deployed Six F-35A Jets To Sardinia For Advanced “Omnirole” Training

The F-35 flight line at Decimomannu airbase. (Image credit: ItAF Troupe Azzurra)

The Italian Lightning II are involved in their third deployment to Decimomannu airbase.

Six ItAF F-35As out of the eight currently in Italy (two more ones are at Luke Air Force Base in the U.S.) are currently at Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, for a 3-week deployment at the local-based RSSTA (Reparto Sperimentale e di Standardizzazione Tiro Aereo – the Air Gunnery Standardization and Experimentation Unit). The aircraft belong to the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 32° Stormo (Wing), from Amendola, in southeastern Italy, that has achieved IOC (Initial Operational Capability) during TLP 18-4, on Nov. 30, 2018.

During the deployment (their third one to the Sardinian base), the Italian stealth jet will carry out various types of training activities, night and day, in coordination with the RSSTA and the Poligono Interforze di Salto di Quirra (Joint Range Salto di Quirra). Thanks to its so-called “omnirole” capabilities, which characterize it as a 5th generation platform compared to the multirole ones of previous generations, the aircraft can simultaneously undertake the whole range of tactical activities that required different types of aircraft in the past: during the same sortie, the pilots can train in a wide variety of missions, including air-to-air engagements, PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions) delivery, ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) for data collection and information sharing, CAS (Close Air Support) to land and sea forces; electronic warfare.

In December 2016, the Italian Air Force became the very first service to take delivery of the 5th generation stealth jet outside of the U.S. Since then, totalling more 2,000 flying hours, the 13° Gruppo has taken part in the type’s first national large scale drills during Vega 2017 multinational joint exercise; has deployed to another base Italian airbase as part of “Operation Lightning“; has conducted two firing campaigns in the Sardinian ranges operating from Decimomannu; has flown over “Polygone” elecronic warfare range, in Bann, Germany; has achieved an IOC in the air-to-air role supporting the SSSA (Servizio Sorveglianza Spazio Aereo – Air Space Surveillance Service) with a Standard Conventional Load (SCL) that includes the AIM-120C5 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) missile; has conducted joint drills with Typhoons, G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) and T-346 jets.

Five F-35s on the ramp at Decimomannu airbase. (Image credit: ItAF Troupe Azzurra)


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.