Tag Archives: Decimomannu

South Europe’s airbases too busy? U.S. planes on OEF rotation, NATO AWACS change route

With the traditional airbases in Southern Europe filled with drones, special operation aircraft and support planes possibly deployed to the Mediterranean sea in anticipation of a strike in Libya or Northern Mali, U.S. planes going to the Middle East or returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, have been forced to change their typical route from the CONUS and back, lately.

Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 18 A-10 Thunderbolt jets belonging to the 355th Fighter Wing from Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, after a stopover at Westover Air Force Base, landed at Aviano airbase, in NE Italy on their way to Afghanistan. Even if Aviano in one of the most important airbases in Europe, it’s rarely visited by airplanes deploying to the Middle East.

On Oct. 12, 13 A-10Cs belonging to the 188th Fighter Wing, AR ANG, and 175th FW, MD ANG, made a stopover at Decimomannu airbase, Sardinia, Italy, on their way back from a combat tour in Afghanistan. Whereas Aviano is the permanent base of the 31st Fighter Wing and its two F-16 Squadrons, Decimomannu does not host any American unit. Hence, the use of this airport is at least weird.

Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily, is usually used for such stopovers. However, the base is not only busy with U.S. planes and helicopters deployed there in the aftermath of the Benghazi consulate attack on Sept. 11, but will soon host civil planes moved there from the close Catania Fontanarossa airport (that will be closed for works from Nov. 5 to Dec. 5, 2012).

Not only U.S. combat planes crossing the Pond are using different bases.

Quite surprisingly, on Oct. 17, local spotters saw another unusual plane arriving at Decimomannu for a temporary deployment: a NATO E-3 AWACS. Among those witnessing the arrival of the E-3A, there was also Roberto Zanda, who took the following interesting picture (and all the others you can find in this post).

All images in this post courtesy of Roberto Zanda

Although the reason of the deployment is not clear (and might be not connected to a build-up in the Mediterranean Sea), the NATO Sentry, is an extremely rare sight in Sardinia. In fact, when they are not at the NATO Airborne Early Warning And Control Force E-3A Component’s base at Geilenkirchen, in Germany, such planes normally use one of the FOBs (Forward Operating Base) in Aktion, Greece; Trapani, Italy; and Konya, Turkey.

Thirteen A-10C Warthogs make surprise visit to Decimomannu airbase, Italy, on their way back to the U.S.

On Oct. 12, 13 A-10Cs belonging to the 188th Fighter Wing, AR ANG, and 175th FW, MD ANG, made a stopover at Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, Italy, on their way back from a combat tour in Afghanistan.

The Warthogs of the Air National Guard “Rainbow Team” (meaning it was a detachment made of planes and crews belonging to multiple units) supported Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram, in Afghanistan.

Although it’s one of the most busy airbases in Europe, Decimomannu airbase is seldom visited by transiting aircraft, especially U.S. combat planes on deployment or returning to the U.S.

The reason for this rare visit, which ended on Oct. 14, when the aircraft left to continue their return flight to the CONUS (Continental United States) could be that NAS (Naval Air Station) Sigonella, in Sicily, a more common stopover, is currently overcrowded with U.S. planes supporting (covert) ops in North Africa and drones.


Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis

Phabulous Phantom Photo: F-4 fighter jet’s romantic take off into a rainbow

Taken few hours ago at Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, by Gian Luca Onnis, the following picture shows a German Air Force F-4 Phantom with the Jadgdeschwader (JG) 71 “Richthofen”, taking off into a rainbow, shortly after a thunderstorm.

The JG-71, from Wittmund, is Germany’s last F-4 operational squadron and the sortie on Oct. 1 afternoon was the last one on the Phantom for the squadron’s commander: the change of command ceremony will take place at “Deci” on Oct. 2.

Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis

German Eurofighter Typhoons train in Sardinia to improve air-to-air skills

The following pictures, taken few days ago by The Aviationist’s Giovanni Maduli at Decimomannu airbase, Italy, show the German Eurofighter Typhoons of the Jagdgeschwader 73 (Fighter Wing 73) “Steinhoff” during their “summer training camp” in the Sardinia’s ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Installation) ranges.

The German Air Force single and double seat F-2000s are involved in air-to-air training sorties that involve BAE Systems’ A-4Ns as well as GFD’s Learjet 35 target tugs.

The Luftwaffe’s Typhoon performed very well in the air defense role during the recent Red Flag Alaska, where four Eurofighters are believed to have accounted for 16 simulated kills from 18 simulated missile shots on one sortie.

“Yesterday we had Raptor salad for lunch” a  German Typhoon pilot said after dogfighting with the F-22 at Red Flag Alaska.

During the RF-A, in one German-led DCA (Defensive Conter Air) mission, the friendly force achieved a record score of 38:1; 38 planes shot down, one lost.

Photo: Royal Air Force Hawks (including a special color aircraft) landing at Decimomannu on their way to Akrotiri, Cyprus

Taken by Gian Luca Onnis, at Decimomannu airbase on Jun. 28, the following pictures show two RAF Hawks landing for a stopover in Sardinia on their way to Akrotiri, Cyprus.

Noteworthy, one of the them sported the 100 Squadron 95th Anniversary Scheme.

Based at RAF Leeming, the 100 Sqn’s Hawks operate in a mixed target facilities role along with exercise and training support which include WSO training, and dedicated aircraft to support the Joint Forward Air Controllers Training and Standards Unit.

Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis

The unit badge, the skull with crossbones (approved by King George VI in November 1937), was the official version of a motif used by the Squadron on the Western Front in 1917.