Tag Archives: Italian Air Force

Photos from Aircraft involved in rescue mission to evacuate people trapped on burning ferry

Italian and Greek military and coast guard aircraft, helicopters and boats are battling strong winds and massive waves to rescue 478 people trapped on a burning ferry adrift between Italy and Albania.

A complex rescue mission is underway since early in the morning on Dec. 28, when fire broke out on a car deck of the Italian flagged “Norman Atlantic” ferry, travelling from Patras, Greece, to Ancona, Italy, with 478 people on board.

Italy and Greece dispatched helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft (including an Italian Coast Guard ATR-42MP and Hellenic C-130) to support the rescue mission that will go ahead until everyone aboard is evacuated from the ferry, adrift about 15 nautical miles from the Albanian coast.

Smoke

Italian Air Force HH-139s, Italian Navy SH-212 and EH-101s helicopters are rescuing passengers from the ship and carrying them to the nearby ships or hospitals in southeastern Italy.

Ferry EH101

At 21.43 GMT, 287 people must still be evacuated. One of the passengers has been declared dead. Rescue operations are particularly difficult because of the high seas, darkness and amount of smoke coming from the ship.

Ferry MM 4

Both the ferry and the nearby ships can be tracked by AIS (Automatic Identification System), an automatic tracking system used for identification and geo-localization of vessels that can be considered the naval homologous of the ADS-B used by airplanes and it is used for collision avoidance, search and rescue, and for aids to navigation.

Here below you can see the track followed by the Norman Atlantic until the present position (from MarineTraffic.com):

Norman Atlantic track

Here below you can see the position of the ferry at 21.39 GMT:

Norman Atlantic position

It looks like one of the supporting helicopters is also using broadcasting its flight data by means of AIS and can be tracked. Have a look at the path it has followed.

Norman Atlantic helicopter

Image credit: Guardia Costiera, Marina Militare, Marinetraffic.com

 

Norway, Poland and The Netherlands to Acquire Shared Aerial Refueling Capability

European Defense Agency has published a Statement according to which the Netherlands, Norway and Poland have expressed their will to start negotiations with the Airbus Defence & Space Company, regarding acquisition of the MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) aircraft.

As shown by the Air War in Libya in 2011, tankers are among the most important assets in any modern military air campaign. Several European air forces lack the (somehow basic) capability to project the air power by supporting their front line fighter jets and attack planes with aerial refuelers and, in light of the ever shrinking defense budgets, they are looking at the “pooling and sharing” principle to optimize resources.

Therefore, whilst Sweden, has already started collective aerial refueling activities with the Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767, (along with France and the UK), Norway, Poland and the Netherlands have decided to create a joint tanker force based on the Airbus A330 MRTT.

Back in March 2012, Defense Ministries of these countries declared that they were willing to further develop the air-refueling capability among the European air forces. This initiative has also been endorsed by the European Council, which considers it to be one of the four key programs within the scope of operational capability development. What is interesting, more partner states are invited to participate in the program, further on the road, which means that they may join the initiative later on. Initial Operational Capability is expected to be obtained by 2019.

The Netherlands, along with Norway and Poland decided to use NSPA (NATO Support Agency) support and to ask OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement) for help within the scope of starting the relevant negotiations with the Airbus Defence & Space company.

According to altair.com.pl the negotiations do not mean that any agreement would be signed afterward. Indeed, the release published on the official website of the European Defense Agency states that “(…) engagement in further negotiations does not constitute a commitment by EDA, NSPA, OCCAR or the Participating nations to place an order either as a result of this dialogue or at a subsequent stage.”

Market research, carried out via the means of targeted requests for information, has revealed that only the MRTT aircraft meets the requirements formulated by the parties. The tanker is to be equipped with two refueling systems – a flying boom as well as underwing pods with hoses, in order to facilitate refueling of a variety of aircraft (even though, so far, the three participating nations are using the F-16 as their main fighter, which is refueled via the rigid boom-based system).

Another important issue which should be noted is the fact that Airbus MRTT is not dedicated solely to refueling tasks, as it is also quite capable transport aircraft. The transport capabilities may be useful in case of strategic airlift or MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation) operations.

Image credit: Airbus

 

Italian Eurofighter Typhoons ready to take over lead role in NATO Baltic Air Policy

Four Italian Air Force Typhoons will provide Baltic Air Policing duties from Siauliai airbase, Lithuania.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, the Italy will take over the role of lead nation in the NATO Baltic Air Policing (BAP).

Four Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jets will deploy to Siauliai airbase, in Lithuania, where they will relieve the four Portuguese F-16s at their second rotation at the eastern border of NATO.

Currently committed to the operation are also four CF-188s of the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as German Air Force Eurofighters out of Ämari, Estonia, and Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s out of Malbork, Poland that will replaced by Polish MiG-29s and Spanish Eurofighters scheduled to deploy to Šiauliai, Lithuania, and Ämari, Estonia, respectively.

Aircraft providing BAP are regularly scrambled to intercept, identify and escort Russian Air Force planes (including spyplanes and bombers) flying in international airspace close to the airspaces of NATO countries.

With the participation to the BAP, Italy will become the very first nation to provide air policing tasks over four foreign airspaces: Iceland (on rotation), Slovenia, Albania (task shared with the Hellenic Air Force) and Lithunia.

 

Italian Police Forces to use Air Force’s Predator drones

Italian Police and Military Police can use Italian Air Force Predator drones for a wide variety of missions.

On Nov. 26, the Polizia (Police), Carabinieri (Military Police) and the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) signed a deal for the use of the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) in various urban activities as well as to support relief operations in case of natural disasters.

The Italian Air Force operates a mixed force of 6 MQ-9 Reaper and 6 MQ-1C Predator A+ both assigned to the 28° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 32° Stormo (Wing) at Amendola airbase.

The Italian drones have flown ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance missions) as well as MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation), support to TIC (Troops In Contact), IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) monitoring and Convoy Escort in Iraq and Afghanistan; they have supported Operation Unified Protector in Libya, Mare Nostrum operation in the Mediterranean Sea near Lampedusa (where they have monitored the migratory flows and consequent tragic ship wreckages off the island) and they are also currently deployed in Kuwait (to support the US-led anti-ISIS operation in Syria and Iraq) and Djibouti, where  they are used to monitor the seas off the coast of Somalia in anti-piracy missions.

Leveraging their persistence on the target area (up to 20 hours), the drones will now enable Police forces to monitor major events and support anti-crime and riot-control operations.

Italian Air Force Predators have already flown similar missions during the G8 summit in 2009 when they contributed to the event’s security; among all the other things, a Predator provided real-time imagery of the Obama motorcade from Pratica di Mare airbase (where the Air Force One had landed) to L’Aquila, the location chosen for the meetings.

Image credit: EUNAVFOR

 

KC-767 performs special bio-containment flight to transport Italy’s first case of Ebola

The Italian Air Force carried out the first special biocontainment flight, to repatriate an Italian doctor who contracted Ebola virus working in Sierra Leone.

An Italian doctor, who developed a fever and was positive at the virus after working at a clinic located few miles west of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, was repatriated with a special bio-containment flight on Nov. 24.

The doctor was isolated and transported on a Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767A, a dual role aircraft that can perform both the tanker and the strategic transport mission, operated by the 14° Stormo, that landed at Pratica di Mare airbase, near Rome, early in the morning on Nov. 25.

The Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) operates four such planes, one of those is currently supporting US-led campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Ebola flight

According to the Italian Air Force, in Europe, the ability to carry out transport of highly infectious patients through the use of special isolated stretchers is a peculiarity held exclusively by the Aeronautica Militare and UK’s Royal Air Force.

The Italian Air Force has developed the ability to perform aeromedical evacuation in bio-containment since 2005, establishing proper procedures and working closely with both the Ministry of Health and the Department of Civil Protection.

This capability is based on the use of special ATI (Aircraft Transport Isolator) stretchers, used to board the patient, and the smaller TSI (Stretcher Transit Isolator) terrestrial system, required to transfer the patient from the aircraft to the ambulance upon arrival.

Within the Italian Air Force, “bio-containment” missions can currently be conducted with C-130J Hercules, C-27J Spartan and KC-767 aircraft.

Ebola flight 2

Image credit: Italian Air Force