Italian Air Force and Navy fighting over F-35B?

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Corsair1963

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Unread post09 Jun 2021, 00:12

Italian, British F-35B jets train together for first time, all thanks to the pandemic

ANTELLERIA, Italy — The Italian Air Force is getting its money’s worth out of its single F-35B jet.

The jet made a short landing Tuesday on the Italian island of Pantelleria to join a British Royal Air Force F-35B. The two Joint Strike Fighters practiced fast ground refueling from a parked C-130J, marking the first time F-35Bs from Italy and the U.K. have trained together.

The British jet had flown in from the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is steaming past the island on a flag-flying mission to the Asia-Pacific region.

The Italian F-35B arrived on Pantelleria, a tiny speck in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, for the second time as it tests Italy’s plan to deploy the type to advance bases with very short runways.

And it is all thanks to COVID-19.



After rolling off Italy’s F-35 final assembly line, the Air Force’s first and so far only “B” model was due to fly to the U.S. for pilot training in February 2020, but was stuck in Italy because of pandemic-related restrictions. According to officials, things have worked out just fine.

“Because of the pandemic ... it stayed in Italy, and in a year we have acquired notable experience, including on maintenance, qualifying technicians, and achieved a series of certifications allowing activities like today,” said Gen. Gianni Candotti, the Italian Air Force’s operational commander. “Partnering is absolutely important in Europe where we and the British use the F-35B, and we exploring [additional] opportunities to exercise together.”

Joint training made sense since the two air forces were likely to join forces in operations, he added. “The aircraft we have — and this is also the case for our partners — are insufficient to mount daily sorties that NATO or other organizations require. It is necessary to pool forces with partners. In 30 years in the Air Force I have never worked alone. We have always worked with other allies that share objectives and values.”



Britain’s participation was enabled by the proximity of the Queen Elizabeth, which is also hosting 10 U.S. Marine Corp F-35s on its eastward trip. One of the American jets was due in Pantelleria on Tuesday, but its visit was canceled after a Marine F35B flying from the ship suffered a malfunction and was forced to land on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

Meanwhile, the Royal Air Force jet arriving on Pantelleria was joined by a Royal Navy Merlin helicopter carrying a British crew to assist with refueling. That drill on the island’s small Italian air base was part of a wider exercise currently taking place in Italy. Falcon Strike, which involves F-35As from the U.S., Israel and Italy, marks the first visit to Italy by Israeli F-35s. Italy currently operates 10 “A” models, with three more undertaking training in the United States.



Additionally, the Italian Navy has taken delivery of two F-35Bs, also training in the United States. And in March, the service qualified its aircraft carrier Cavour to host the fighter after sea trials with American jets.

But when it comes to joint training and operations, the fate of F-35Bs is in question: Both the Navy and Air Force are due to receive 15 of the jets — a small number amount, which could justify joint management. However, no decision has been made amid jockeying between the services to keep sovereign control over their respective jets, and it has yet to be decided who gets Italy’s fourth “B” model when it is delivered.

As a sign that some sort of integrated Italian F-35B force is in the works, a Defence Ministry document issued this year contained objectives for 2022, among them a “STOVL Joint Force,” using an acronym for short takeoff and vertical landing. That could involve Air Force F-35Bs flying off the Cavour, but Candotti said that “is not our immediate objective.”

Instead, the Air Force would focus on preparing to land its F-35Bs on short and rough runways, with Afghanistan serving as a lesson. “In Afghanistan, only after a year and lots of money spent and risks taken, we were able to lengthen the runway at the base used by Italians to use our Tornados,” he said, referring to another military aircraft.

However, he did not rule out some form of eventual joint command for Italy’s Navy and Air Force F-35Bs. “Everything is possible. Our British colleagues did it with the Harrier and continue with the F-35B. There are various ways to integrate from minimum collaboration to full integration. It is being studied.”

https://www.defensenews.com/training-si ... -pandemic/
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Unread post09 Jun 2021, 21:11

from above story "An Italian Air Force F-35B jet is refueled in Pantelleria from an Italian C-130J during a June 8 exercise. (Italian Air Force photo)" https://www.armytimes.com/resizer/uws_P ... uality(100)/cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/mco/Z6YGRQ7JVVEPFLUDIV3OHPLUJI.jpg
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Unread post20 Jun 2021, 22:26

Huh, so the IAF intends to operate both A and B variants. Interesting choice (having a squadron able to operate from rough, forward airstrips is a sensible thing if they expect more such deployments in the future). At least they have a common support structure with the Italian Navy. I wonder if there are any other air forces (not navies) going for such a mixed fleet?
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Unread post20 Jun 2021, 23:08

This has far more to do with politics and interservice rivalry. Than the merits of the air force operate both the F-35A and F-35B.
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Unread post21 Nov 2021, 20:26

A significant step towards full joint training and operations between Italian Air Force and Navy F-35 forces:

https://www.agenzianova.com/a/619a88171 ... ica/linked

Google translated:

It ended today, in the central Mediterranean, in the presence of the Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, accompanied for the occasion by the Chief of Staff of the Navy, Fleet Admiral Enrico Credendino, and by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Air Squad General Luca Goretti, an important international activity that involved the Italian naval group led by the Cavour aircraft carrier, operating with Navy and Air Force F-35B aircraft, and a British naval group led by the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier , also operating with F-35Bs. This was reported today in a press release from the Ministry of Defense.


Note that the alleged rivality between the two services was regarded as the main problem for the Italian integrtation of the F-35. This is a great milestone, underlined by the presence of the top brass and an unexpected and very good new.

Also google translated from same source:

In the interaction with the British aircraft carrier, thanks to the high level of interoperability achieved, two Italian F-35Bs are docked on the Queen Elizabeth and at the same time two US Marine Corps F-35Bs, embarked on the English ship, are docked on the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour. The interaction also saw further training in flight with the involvement of F-35Bs that took off from the two aircraft carriers, which carried out a demanding air combat mission. In addition to the success of the joint activities carried out by the Navy and Air Force aircraft on board Nave Cavour, today's interaction with the British aircraft carrier group has made it possible to successfully test the joint technical-operational procedures aimed at achieving full interoperability between the two Marines.
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Unread post22 Nov 2021, 06:42

I see little benefit of having Air Force F-35B's on Naval Aircraft Carriers. Honestly, they could accomplish much of the same thing via exchange programs.
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Unread post22 Nov 2021, 08:42

IN the WAYBACK ERA - perhaps several years ago now - a thread here has quotes from Italian Admirable/Air Marshal stating Air Force F-35Bs will NOT fly Navy Missions aboard CAVOUR etc and vice versa. In the meantime there has been more squabbling of course, so what the current situation is I don't know BUT perhaps the author above 'GOT IT RONG?' I would like to see a comprehensive recent English article to be aware of the current envisaged operation of Italian F-35Bs.
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Unread post22 Nov 2021, 09:22

That makes two of us....... :|
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Unread post22 Nov 2021, 09:43

This is OLD 2013 stuff so of course I am aware things may have changed meantime however I don't recall reading such:

viewtopic.php?f=22&t=20426&p=425578&hilit=Admiral+Italian#p425578

Search: search.php?st=0&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&keywords=Admiral+Italian&fid%5B%5D=65&ch=-1
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Unread post22 Nov 2021, 10:21

Italy is not acquiring enough F-35B's to support both the Air Force and Navy. (15 each) Hell, 30 isn't really enough to support one service let alone two!
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Unread post22 Nov 2021, 10:28

Corsair1963 wrote:I see little benefit of having Air Force F-35B's on Naval Aircraft Carriers. Honestly, they could accomplish much of the same thing via exchange programs.


Corsair1963 wrote:Italy is not acquiring enough F-35B's to support both the Air Force and Navy. (15 each) Hell, 30 isn't really enough to support one service let alone two!


Can you see the benefit of having doubled the force deployable on the Cavour and Trieste? From 15 to 30, not bad.
Unfortunatelly the cut of the acquisition fro 136 AC to 90 gives these numbers. Maybe a split between 70 F35-As for Airforce and 20 F-35Bs for the Navy would have made more sense, anyway at the time the characteristics of Trieste were far from being defined.
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Unread post22 Nov 2021, 19:49

Nice LID art: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FEzFS3qWUAgN68X?format=jpg An Italian AF F-35B during cross decking QE.

ASLO (yes I know): https://twitter.com/NavyLookout/status/ ... 6352950281 TWO MORE PICs.
"Italian Navy [nope 'tis Air Force 'A M'] F-35Bs on board HMS Queen Elizabeth during cross decking exercises in the central Mediterranean with ITS Cavour."


Looking at the twit comments (especially da coporial frisky) apparently there is an 'A M' and an 'A N' (for NAVY?) I dunno.

AHA! The MYSTerious LIGHTING II pops up or should I say 'opens Italian Air Force BIN LID'?:

MM7453 Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) Lockheed Martin F-35B Lighting II. Lots more F-35 photos here:

https://www.planespotters.net/photos/ai ... ighting-II
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Unread post22 Nov 2021, 20:36

A better story than the above muddle is here: https://theaviationist.com/2021/11/22/i ... 5b-cavour/
Italian Air Force F-35B Lands On Italian Navy Aircraft Carrier For The First Time
23 Nov 2021 David Cenciotti

"During the joint drills, the Italian Air Force and Navy F-35B integrated aboard ITS Cavour for the very first time and also landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

A joint exercise, involving both the Italian Navy aircraft carrier Cavour and the Royal Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth, was carried out in the central Mediterranean Sea in the last few days. The drills, which officially ended on Nov. 21, 2021, saw several “firsts”: an F-35B of the Italian Air Force landed for the first time on the Italian Navy aircraft carrier; the Italian Air Force and Navy’s F-35Bs integrated for the first time aboard ITS Cavour before landing for the first time on HMS Queen Elizabeth; two operational U.S. Marine Corps F-35B deployed aboard HMSQE operated from the flight deck on the Italian aircraft carrier for the first time....

...As we have often commented in the past, the joint activity carried out in full synergy between the two Italian services was desirable as it paves the way for more integration: the Italian Government is currently procuring 90 F-35s, 60 of those are F-35As (that will be entirely operated by the Aeronautica Militare) [A M] and the remaining 30 ones are F-35Bs. Out of those 30 F-35Bs, 15 will go to the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) [M&Ms?] :mrgreen: [OK M M] and 15 to the Air Force. The Lightning II will replace the Navy’s ageing AV-8B+ Harrier II and will be embarked on the Cavour aircraft carrier and the new LHD Trieste...."

Source: https://theaviationist.com/2021/11/22/i ... 5b-cavour/
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Unread post22 Nov 2021, 22:22

Italy air force F-35B makes first time landing on Italian carrier
23 Nov 2021 Tom Kington

"ROME – An Italian Air Force F-35B has landed for the first time on the Cavour, the Italian Navy’s aircraft carrier, joining a Navy F-35B on board and signaling the long awaited start of joint activities between the two forces using the aircraft.

During the exercise on Nov. 21 the two jets flew together from the Cavour to land on the nearby Queen Elizabeth – the Royal Navy carrier currently in the Mediterranean, while two U.S. Marine F-35Bs currently based on the British vessel flew to the Cavour, before U.S., Italian and British B’s flew maneuvers together.

The exercise was officially about F-35Bs from different countries working together, but the big breakthrough was the sight of Italian Navy and Air Force jets flying alongside each other after a slow start [ https://www.defensenews.com/global/euro ... to-a-head/ ] to cooperation between the forces.

The Navy now has three of 15 F-35Bs due to be delivered, two of which are training in the United States, while a third was delivered to the Cavour in July....

...On Sunday, talk of genuine cooperation came thick and fast as Italian chief of staff Adm. Cavo Dragone suggested that in addition to Air Force pilots now flying their jets off the Cavour, Navy pilots would train to join land-based missions.

“The synergies between the Navy and Air Force in the use of the F-35B from the decks of aircraft carriers will be matched in their use from land, operating together in operational situations without runways suitable for conventional aircraft,” he said.

Describing Sunday as a “historic day”, he added, “This a new season in which we head towards complete integration of the F-35Bs of the Air Force and the Navy which will bring total interoperability in air and naval operations.”

In a statement, the Air Force said, “With this activity we are turning a new page where interoperability and the concept of Joint and Combined synergy between armed forces are concrete facts.”

That adds to talk in this year’s Italian defense budget of a ‘STOVL Joint Force,’ suggesting some sort of integrated Italian F-35B force could evolve.

What remains to be decided is where one shared base for the jets could be established, with the Navy hitherto keen to continue to use its base in Grottaglie in southern Italy it has used for its aging Harrier fleet.

The Air Force, in turn, already has a large F-35 base for its A’s and its B at nearby Amendola and believes it makes sense to group all of Italy’s F-35 jets there."

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/global/euro ... n-carrier/
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Unread post23 Nov 2021, 01:39

I really think this split idea makes no sense.

Just give the Navy like 20 and procure 80 A versions instead.
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