‘Indo-Pacific Jump’: Italian Contingent Of F-35A, F-35B, AV-8B, Eurofighter Jets Deploy To Japan, Australia For Joint Drills

Indo Pacific Jump
Italian Air Force KC-767 and F-35s during the recent Red Flag trail (Image credit: Italian Air Force)

For the first time, Italian Air Force and Navy fighters will also take part in regional exercises like Pitch Black and RIMPAC.

The Italian deployment to the US for Exercise Red Flag Alaska 24-1 and Exercise Distant Frontier has just ended, but the Italian Air Force, alongside the Italian Navy, is about to undertake another deployment, this time across the Indo-Pacific region, a long range trip dubbed “Indo-Pacific Jump”.

A part of the Italian assets taking part in the deployment will be “dragged” by KC-767A tankers and supported by C-130J (employed for SAR support) to join a series of exercises involving countries like Australia and Japan, while a second air component will join the Indo-Pacific area on board of the Italian Carrier ITS Cavour.

Italian KC-767 and Eurofighters during the Red Flag trail (Image credit: Italian Air Force)
Italian KC-767 and Eurofighters during the Red Flag trail (Image credit: Italian Air Force)

This opportunity will certainly allow the Italian Air Force and Navy, which already share knowledge and training procedures for pilots assigned to the F-35B, to reinforce the existing cooperation.

June – July: RIMPAC 2024

During its planned six-month deployment in the Indo-Pacific, the Italian Navy’s ITS Cavour will participate, for the first time, in the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of The Pacific 2024 (RIMPAC 2024). This exercise, hosted by the U.S. Navy  started on June 27, 2024 off the Hawaiian coast. The Italian Navy will operate the F-35B alongside the AV-8B+ during the drills.

The participation in such a complex exercise will precede the sea-based Inital Operational Capability (IOC) for the F-35B, which is planned to be achieved at the end of 2024.

July – August: Pitch Black 2024

Exercise Pitch Black is a three-week biennial large-force employment multi-national exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force from July 12 to August 2, 2024.

The 2024 edition is set to be the largest iteration in its history, with 21 international participants, and over 140 aircraft from around the world.

The event will primarily take place in northern Australia, with fighter operations centered at RAAF Bases Tindal and Darwin, and support aircraft, such as tankers and tactical airlifters, based at Amberly.

Exercise Pitch Black offers one of the world’s largest airspace areas, allowing participating aircrews to conduct both  day and night sorties, with a significant emphasis on nighttime operations. The exercise covers a wide spectrum of training activities, simulating large-scale war scenarios and providing opportunities for live-fire exercises and realistic threat simulations involving a diverse array of aircraft.

The Italian Air Force will deploy several assets to RAAF Tindal, including F-35A and F-35B Lightning II, Eurofighter Typhoon and G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) additionally, KC-767 and C-130J will deploy to RAAF Amberley.

The Italian Navy will also participate in Exercise Pitch Black 24, deploying F-35B and AV-8B Plus and taking operations both on board the ITS Cavour and from RAAF Tindall.

As in previous editions, the participating aircraft will perform a fly past over Mindil Beach at a civil community engagement event planned for July 18 2024, providing a spectacular display for the public and fostering community relations.

August: Italy – Japan cooperation

Following the success of last year’s deployment to Komatsu AFB for the commemoration of the Roma-Tokyo Ride, Japan will host an Italian Cell at Misawa AFB for a series of joint training exercises. The Italian Air Force and Italian Navy will participate in the drills alongside Japan’s Carrier Aviation Component, facilitating an exchange that enhances interaction between Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and Italian national assets. This collaboration focused on tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPS) with a focus on the F-35 employment as well as close interaction with AEW (Airborne Early Warning) and 4th Gen Platforms.

The F-15J ‘963’ with the special markings to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ItAF and the 2023 deployment of the Italian Air Force to Japan (JASDF)

Italy and Japan are collaborating on several key areas, including pilot training and the GCAP (Global Combat Air Programme), a multinational collaboration involving Italy, the United Kingdom, and Japan with the shared ambition of producing the next-generation fighter aircraft by 2035.

About Elia Silvestris
Elia Silvestris, an aviation expert from Italy, has a keen interest in flight simulation and real-world activities, particularly military operations and open-source intelligence. His goal is to offer high-quality analyses of current global theaters, providing detailed insights into the tactics and techniques employed.