U.S. F-16s And Italian Typhoons Train Together During Emerald Strike 2023

Emerald Strike
Some images of the U.S. F-16s and Italian Eurofighters at Grosseto during Emerald Strike (All images: Giovanni Maduli)

A dozen F-16s deployed to Grosseto Air Base, where they integrated with the Italian Air Force Eurofighters for the two-week exercise.

The 4° Stormo Caccia (Fighter Wing) of the Italian Air Force has hosted the 555th Fighter Squadron “Triple Nickel” of the U.S. Air Force in Europe (USAFE) at Grosseto Air Base, for Emerald Strike 2023, a joint two-week exercise which kicked off on January 27, 2023. The exercise was designed to optimize the integration of aircraft and strengthen interoperability of the two air forces during joint operations to maintain joint readiness.

“Emerald Strike provides our Airman critical opportunities to train how we fight,” said Lt. Col. Rolf Tellefsen, 555th FS commander. “Training with our joint partners increases our capabilities and enhances interoperability, allowing our forces to counter military aggression and coercion by sharing responsibilities for common defense.”

One of the F-16s of the 31st FW during Emerald Strike.

On Feb. 8, 2023, we attended the Spotter Day for Emerald Strike hosted by the Italian Air Force at Grosseto Air Base, where our photographer Giovanni Maduli took the photographs you can find in this article.

Eurofighter Typhoon of the 4° Stormo.

The exercise is designed to test the Triple Nickel’s ability to rapidly deploy and integrate with Allied forces while delivering combat air power more effectively. Officials did not specify if the exercise will also focus on Agile Combat Employment, which has been a constant in the 555th’s exercises last year. As we often reported, the ACE concept forces sees rapidly deploying to a simulated austere location and self-sustain operations for an extended period of time.

555th FS F-16 landing at the end of the mission.

The Triple Nickel’s objectives focused on air operations in highly contested environments, coalition planning and effectiveness and logistic consolidation, according to the press release. Both offensive and defensive air operations were practiced in joint scenarios, helping the development and standardization of tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) in order to expand the ability to cooperate, exchange or reuse information or services.

Italian Air Force F-2000A launching.

Officials say participation with Allies and partners in joint exercises is essential to the U.S. Air Force’s agility throughout Europe because, without them, their ability to deter, defend and win would be severely degraded. In fact, exercises of this kind are meant to enhance professional relationships and improve overall coordination with partner militaries during times of crisis, as well as strengthening deterrence efforts and adapting through improving readiness and responsiveness.

Aviano Viper taking off from Grosseto for an afternoon mission.

The Triple Nickel recently took part in another joint exercise with the Italian Air Force, Falcon Strike 2022. The exercise, which was held in November at Amendola Air Base, saw the participation of the unit’s F-16s together with F-35s from Italy, US and the Netherlands. Falcon Strike 2022 was specifically focused on 5th gen. aircraft, their technical characteristics and training/operational implications, simulating the first days of war, with NATO responding to a crisis that quickly transformed in an armed conflict in a demanding anti-access/area-denial scenario of a fictitious equal adversary.

Aviano F-16 launching for an Emerald Strike mission.
About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.
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.