January 10, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Italian Air Force F-16 fleet has reached 20,000 combined flight hours during a mission in the first few days of January. This is less than 3,5 years after the aircraft came into service..
AMI F-16B, #MM7269, banking over a spectacular Italian coastline [Photo by Troupe Azzurra]
The 20K milestone was reached by an aircraft of the 37th Wing at Trapani, the Italian Air Force's Main Operating Base (Mob) for F-16s. The Italian Air Force also maintains a Forward Operating Base (Fob) for its F-16s in Cervia. F-16 operations began in Trapani on June 28, 2003. Trapani also ensures the maintenance of all aircraft, including those of the 5th Wing in Cervia.
On March 15th, 2001 the Italian government signed a LoA
for a 5-year lease (with an option on another 5 years) in a deal worth up to $777 million over a 10-year period. The deal included 34 F-16s, leased as a stop-gap solution, untill delivery of the 121 EF2000 Typhoons.The 34 aircraft include 30 F-16A ADFs as well as 1 F-16B ADF
and 3 F-16B block 5
& 10's were delivered. Four more planes were provided for use as spare parts. Under the leasing contract, the Italian F-16 fleet is limited to a maximum of 45,000 flight hours.