The Italian Air Force has celebrated the 50K flight hours of the trainer as well as the 80th anniversary of the School based in Latina.
On Jun. 27, 2019, the 70° Stormo (Wing), based at Latina (some 70 km to the southeast of Rome), celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Flight School and the 50,000 FH of the SF-260EA with a special colored aircraft (MM55119).
Dating back to the 1960s, the SF-260 two-seat light trainer, designed by Stelio Frati and manufactured by SIAI Marchetti (and later by Alenia Aeromacchi), is one of the most successful Italian trainers ever: it has been sold to 27 military customers worldwide as a trainer and light attack plane for CAS (Close Air Support), and has also had some successes among private operators.
The Italian Air Force currently operates the SF-260EA variant that replaced the original SF-260AM. On Sept. 19, 2009, the last SF-260AM, serialled MM54436 “70-63”, led a formation of 4 SF-260AMs that made a few farewell flypasts before landing for the last time at Latina after logging 235,500 flight hours since 1976. The SF-260EA is equipped with an advanced avionics suite and improved cockpit, as well as advanced air conditioning systems.
To celebrate the 50K FH, the special colored trainer led a formation of 9 SF-260EA. Noteworthy, MM55119 was also the first SF-260EA that, coded “70-26”, in 2009, received a high-visibility colour scheme that replaced the previous grey one that made rejoin and formation flight a bit too difficult for student pilots.