Guardia di Finanza’s New Air-Naval Operations Simulation Centre Opens in Italy

Guardia di Finanza
Some images of the ceremony for the opening of the new Air-Naval Operations Simulation Centre of the Guardia di Finanza (Image credit: Giovanni Maduli and Oscar Bernardi)

The first and one-of-a-kind training centre in Europe has been opened at Pratica di Mare Air Base.

On Feb. 2, 2023, Guardia di Finanza (GdF – Italian Customs Police) opened its new Air-Naval Operations Simulation Centre at Pratica di Mare air base, near Rome. The new centre was developed by Leonardo company based on customer’s requirements starting in 2020 with the purpose of making available state of the art training facilities to the Guardia di Finanza’s crews carrying out air-naval operations with the AW169/AW139 helicopters as well as the P-72B aircraft. The GdF is in fact an Armed Corps with general capability in economic and financial matters, and the only maritime Police Force in Italy.

The ceremony at Pratica di Mare on Feb. 2, 2023.

Our contributors Giovanni Maduli and Oscar Bernardi attended the ceremony at Pratica di Mare Air Base and took the photos of the simulation facilities as well as the GdF aircraft on display that you can find in this article.

AW169M with the skids.

“The new centre, a one-of-a-kind in Europe, integrates advanced network simulation systems in a single environment,” says an official public release. “The simulators fully mirror Leonardo’s helicopters and airplanes, which have recently been acquired by Guardia di Finanza and used for a range of operational roles. In addition to the company’s on-board mission systems used for surveillance and identification, among others. These add to a scenario simulator, developed by Leonardo, which is able to virtually generate the environment where platforms and personnel collaborate on a single mission, a vessel instrument panel simulator which also introduces ships in a maritime environment – developed in collaboration with Cetena (Fincantieri) – and a ground-based command centre that coordinates the operations.”

The simulator control workstation.
One of the simulators of the centre.

Along with new rotary and fixed wing aircraft “mini-motion” simulators, designated Enhanced Training Device (ETD e-Motion), that reproduce performance, avionics and cockpits with high fidelity for pilot training, the centre also features rear crew training system whose goal is to enable aircrews to train with the Leonardo ATOS (Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance) mission system for the AW139 and P-72B, as well as cabin hoist operations using highly immersive virtual reality for SAR (search and rescue) missions.

The ATR-72 of the Guardia di Finanza.
The AW139 simulator
The hoist simulator

According to the GdF, “The centre will be able to simulate a wide variety of operational scenarios to train, in an integrated, standardized and immersive way, all the service’s personnel involved in the planning, management and execution of police operations, both over land and at sea, in quite different environments”. Thanks to the new facilities and its capabilities, the GdF aircrews will be trained in an environment able to reflect with extreme realism the interoperability typically required in the current and future multi-domain scenarios, exactly those where Guardia di Finanza performs its missions such as security, surveillance, patrol, and rescue.

AW169 and AW139.

The centre, is an EASA-Approved Training Organization and obtained an ENAC (Italy’s Civil Aviation Authority) Remotely Piloted Aircraft Training Certificate and is integrated with Leonardo helicopter Training Academy’s global network.

Another look at one of the simulators of the centre.
Special colored AW139

“This initiative is the result of Guardia di Finanza’s strong support for training simulation use and the relevant Leonardo’s industrial and technological capabilities. These integrate fixed- and rotary-wing, electronics and sensor, training and ‘digital twin’ development/use expertise,” says Leonardo.

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.