Three Historic Firsts for Italy in the F-35 Program During 2015

Second Line of Defense // December 07, 2015

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Italy was a pioneer in combat aviation.

Although different at the beginning of the 21st century, Italy has again emerged as an important player in military aviation.

They are key players in the two key 21st century multinational military aviation industrial coalitions, Eurofighter and F-35, as well as establishing a center of excellence for pilot training along with introducing one of the best 21st century trainers, the Aermacchi M-346.

In late September, in the famous Italian Air Ministry building in the center of Rome, I had a chance to conduct my third interview with Lt. General Preziosa, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force.

The Italians like the British are undergoing a double transition, whereby the Eurofighter is being modernized in two ways, namely, subsuming Tornado missions and replacing the Tornado and adding a new AESA radar to the airplane and introducing the F-35 to help shape joint force transformation.

The Italians have built a significant facility at Cameri air base to build the F-35, wings for F-35s and to provide sustainment for the operational fleet throughout the region as well.

Earlier this Fall, the first F-35 came off of the Cameri line and flew successfully in Italian Air Space.

The facility was built in only four years and the first flight was ahead of schedule.

On Sept. 7, the first F-35A assembled outside the US, made its very first flight from Cameri airbase.

The aircraft, designated AL-1, is the first of eight aircraft currently being assembled at the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri, in northwestern Italy.

During the flight, that lasted about 1,5 hours, the F-35A was escorted by a Eurofighter Typhoon.As Secretary Wynne, the man who started the talks on building the Italian facility with the Italians put it with regard to the importance of the event:

“This flight makes the F-35 truly an international program.”

Lt. General Preziosa noted “the quality of the aircraft which has come off of the Italian line clearly demonstrates the competence of our industry and the importance of our strategic partnerships with U.S. and global defense industry.

The fact that the Dutch Air Force will buy planes from the Italian line is also a recognition of the quality of the Italian effort.”

For Preziosa, the F-35 is really a different type of plane, probably not well captured by the term fifth generation aircraft.

“The F-22 and the F-35 are called fifth generation aircraft, but really the F-35 is the first airplane built for the digital age.

It was conceived in and for that age, and is built around the decision tools in the cockpit and is in fact a flying brain.

And that makes it different from other aircraft.

It is a multi-tasking aircraft, and fits well into the I-phone age.

Other aircraft – with the exception of the F-22 – are built to maximize out as multi-mission aircraft, which execute tasks sequentially and directed to do so.

The F-35 fleet thinks and hunts and can move around the mission set as pilots to operate in the battlespace leverage the data fusion system.

It is a battlespace dominance aircraft; not a classic air superiority, air defense or ground attack aircraft.

It changes the classic distinctions; confuses them and defines a whole new way to look at a combat aircraft, one built for the joint force age as well.

For the Army and the Navy will discover as the F-35 fleet becomes a reality, how significant the F-35 is for their combat efforts.”

“There is nothing static in airpower; there is always a fluid dynamic, and the F-35 provides a benchmark for now for air power excellence and for several decades moving ahead we will leverage the decision tools and multi-tasking capabilities of the F-35 as well add capabilities to our Air Forces.”

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