The Italian Air Force stands up a “new” Typhoon unit.
Eurofighter Typhoons sporting 51-xx codes have started flying with the 132° Gruppo (Squadron), belonging to the 51° Stormo (Wing) of the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare, AM) at Istrana Air Base, in northeastern Italy.
At least three F-2000A (as single seater Typhoons are designated by the ItAF) jets have been spotted by local photographers flying with new codes and markings:
- 51-01 MM7316 (formerly 37-07, previously flying with the 37° Stormo at Trapani AB)
- 51-02 MM7320 (formerly 4-45, from the 4° Stormo at Grosseto AB)
- 51-03 MM 7314 (formerly 36-37, from the 36° Stormo at Gioia del Colle AB)
The first aircraft, coded 51-01, made its public appearance at Istrana, on Sept. 13, 2019, during the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the AMX in Italian Service. As we explained in the article we published back then, a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) cell with Typhoons coming from the other bases (Gioia del Colle, Trapani or Grosseto) is permanently based at Istrana since January 2017. In fact, the re-activation of the 22° Gruppo (an F-104 squadron that was part of the 51° Stormo at Istrana until the end of the 1990s) has long been rumored. While no official decision to re-activate the squadron has been made yet, the three “new” Eurofighters have been assigned to a Squadriglia (Flight) – the 252^ Sq. according to unofficial sources – of the 132° Gruppo (the last squadron in the Aeronautica Militare flying the AMX ACOL Ghibli light bomber), within which a Typhoon unit has been created. More aircraft will be assigned to the unit in the future.
Along with the 132° Gruppo at Istrana, these are the ItAF units flying the Typhoon:
- 9° Gruppo and 20° Gruppo OCU, with the 4° Stormo at Grosseto AB
- 10° and 12° Gruppo, with the 36° Stormo at Gioia del Colle AB
- 18° Gruppo, with the 37° Stormo, at Trapani.
H/T to Emiliano Guerra for the heads-up and details! A big thank you to Denis Bragato and @two_spotters_ina_cornfield for sending us the shots.