Category Archives: Italian Air Force

A multi-role Italian Eurofighter Typhoon?

When the following pictures (courtesy of zetamimmo) appeared on the Italian Vipers forum someone thought that, finally, the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF), had begun thinking to the Eurofighter Typhoon as a multi-role aircraft, something contrasting the previous vision, according to which, the F-2000 should be only used as an air superiority fighter.

However, the pictures, taken at Decimomannu airbase in February, depicts a TF-2000A that, although wearing the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (RSV – Test Unit Wing of the ItAF), it’s currently flown by both Alenia Aeronautica and RSV to conduct testing activities. For example, during my visit to Decimomannu for the F-15E deployment the aircraft serialled MM X-614/IPA 2 was involved in supersonic runs (see pictures at the end of this article), while it carried GBUs to test the aircraft’s autopilot during flights in heavy configurations.
The last part of my article titled “Italian Typhoon”, published in the April 2010 issue of Air Forces Monthly ended with the following words, which explain the past (and current!) vision of the Italian Air Force about the role of the F-2000:

Under Tranche 3A, by 2013, Italy will receive 21 Typhoons bringing the total to 95 (comprising 27 Trance 1 and 47 Tranche 2 examples). The aircraft will be used in the air superiority role, as Italy, due to the cost associated with the envisaged upgrades required by the integration of the air-to-ground weapons, has always been skeptical about a multi-role Eurofighter. At the end of 2008, answering some questions about the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter), Gen. Vincenzo Camporini, former ItAF Chief of Staff, current Defence Chief of Staff, affirmed that: “There’s no competition or conflict between the JSF and the Eurofighter. The Eurofighter was designed for the Air Defence, a role that the aircraft is perfectly able to fulfil, but it can’t perform the attack role in an economically sustainable manner”. That vision hasn’t changed with the Tranche 3 contract signed in July 2009. In a recent interview, Gen. Giuseppe Bernardis, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff, said that Italy did not completely rule out the use of Eurofighters for air-to-ground missions, since both T2 and T3 aircraft will have the ability to carry Paveway and JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) that are already used by the Tornado and the AMX, and will be carried in the future by the F-35s (that Italy plans to acquire in 109 examples: 69 conventional take-off and landing F-35As and 40 short take-off and vertical landing F-35Bs). Hence, the air-to-ground mission is viewed as secondary for the Typhoon; provided their ability to use the ordnance in inventory for other aircraft, the Eurofighter will be possibly be used as “back up” attack platforms until 2040.

F-16 MLU vs Eurofighter Typhoon

Last year I published the pictures taken at Decimomannu airbase during Starex exercise, of the kill markings on two MB.339CDs clearly showing the silhouettes of three (2+1) F-2000 Typhoons (virtually) shot down during training engagements that took place inside the ACMI range.
This time I suggest you having a look at the following video, appeared on Youtube, showing a dogfight during exercise Winter Hide 2011 in Grosseto involving at least one F-16 MLU of the RDAF (Royal Danish Air Force) and one F-2000 of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF), ending with what seems to be the virtual downing of the Italian Typhoon by means of gun.

Although interesting, the video, that generated a lot of comments on both Twitter and various forums, doesn’t prove the F-16 is better than the Typhoon in an air-to-air scenario, for the same reasons I already explained in the above mentioned post about the presumed F-2000 kills by the MB.339CDs: unless we actually know the RoE (Rules of Engagement) that were used for that Winter Hide 2011 mission, we can’t truly understand what led the F-16 in such a position to be able to get a shot at the Typhoon.
By the way: did you notice that the first 1 vs 1, in the first part of the video, terminates at an altitude below 3.000 feet (according to the Radar Altimeter)?

 

Winter Hide 2011 at Grosseto

After publishing the first images of the RDAF (Royal Danish Air Force) F-16s deploying to Grosseto in a previous article, on Feb. 7, 2011, I visited Grosseto airbase to see the Danish F-16AM and BM MLU (Mid-Life Update) of the Esk 727 and 730 from Skrydstrup operating with the Eurofighter Typhoons (both F-2000A and TF-2000A, according to the Italian Mission Design Series) of the local-based 4° Stormo.

The RDAF detachment (100 military) is currently hosted in the north part of the airport, where the WH11 liaison cell is also settled. The 11 aircraft are parked in the apron in front of the Hangar 3 of the GEA (Gruppo Efficienza Aeromobili), west of the RWY21 threshold.

The MLUs of the Fighter Wing Skrydstrup are multi-role fighters assigned to the Nato High Readiness Force (HRF) hence they are flying different types of training sorties: air-to-air (mainly with the Italian F-2000s); air-to-ground (with Danish and Italian ground forces), flying low-level in Central Italy; and also COMAOs (Combined Air Operations) like those conducted in the operational areas east of Sardinia with the 48FW F-15E of the 494th FS deployed to Decimomannu until Feb. 4.

Usually two waves are scheduled each day: at 10:45LT and 14:15LT. A third one is planned a couple of days a week for night flying (with departures at around 17:15LT).

Most of the aircraft deployed to Grosseto carry the LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night) and the AIM-9X coupled with the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System). Noteworthy, lthe Danish MLUs are equipped with a search light, mounted on the port side of the fuselage beneath the canopy, used for the identification during interception at night, much similar to that of the Italian F-16 ADF.

Below are some pictures of the detachment, that will last until Feb. 11, 2011, when the F-16s are due to return to their homebase.





















The Italian Air Force launches LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) on board C-27J to check volcanic ashes

Along with ENAC (Ente Nazionale Aviazione Civile, National Civil Aviation Authority) and the CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, National Research Council), on Jan. 31, 2011, the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) presented the project LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) for the control of the amount of ash in the atmosphere as a result of volcanic activity. Developed following the paralysis of European airspace as a consequence of the eruption of the volcano Eyjafsallajokull, in Iceland, in April 2010, the system will have an active part in mitigating the inconvenience to air traffic caused by such events. In fact airplanes have to avoid any airspace “polluted” by volcanic ash because ash can wreck the function of propeller or jet aircraft. Being extremely fine, the volcanic dust can easily invade the spaces between rotating machinery and jam it; furthermore, the silica melts at about 1.100° C and fuses on to the turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes (another part of the turbine assembly) which in modern aircraft operate at 1.400° C with catastrophic events. One of the most famous incident occurred in 1982, when a British B747 flew through an ash cloud from the Galunggung volcano in Indonesia and experienced the flame out its 4 engines. The aircraft was able to relight them only after diving some 24.000 feet.
The LIDAR is a special equipment for the detection and measurement of airborne particles, installed on board an ItAF C-27J. In case of volcanic activity with release of smoke and ash, the system can be used to rapidly provide the Department of Civil Protection and ENAC all the data required to map the areas that meet the standards of flight safety and can be used safely by the air traffic. The system has been successfully evaluated on Jan. 14, 2011, during the last eruption of Mount Etna Volcano, in SE Sicily.

Picture below courtesy of the ItAF