RAMSTEIN, Germany - From June 7 to 15, the Italian Air Force hosted exercise Falcon Strike aimed at providing multinational and multi-domain training for F-35 fighter aircraft from three Allies and Partner Israel..
This multinational training event fosters the integration process between fourth-generation and fifth-generation weapon systems
A total of 600 participants from the air forces of Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel participated in complex scenarios for aircrews and support teams and staged interoperability training with UK naval units. On a daily basis, the participating air force detachments were presented with new challenges. Missions were focused on operating high-value air assets, conducting air interdiction or close air support missions in combined and joint scenarios .
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth during exercise Falcon Strike. Photo Crown Copyright.
Italian Air Force ground crew refueling an Italian F-35 at Pantelleria during exercise Falcon Strike. Photo courtesy Italian Air Force.
An Israeli Air Force F-35 overhead as a U.S. Air Force F-16 at Amendola Air Base during exercise Falcon Strike. Photo courtesy Israeli Air Force.
"The goal during Falcon Strike was to create a secure environment which allows aircrews to plan, brief, fly and debrief missions operated in a 5th generation framework," said by Lieutenant Colonel Marco Scrivieri, the Falcon Strike Exercise Director.
Modern F-35 fighter aircraft from three Allies and Partner Israel flew integration missions with Italian Eurofighter, T-346, Tornado and AMX jets, US Air Force F-16 fighters, tanker aircraft and conformal airborne early warning aircraft as well as the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elisabeth in the Mediterranean Sea.
"This multinational training event fostered the integration process between fourth-generation and fifth-generation weapon systems, a process that the Italian Defence and Italian Air Force have been conducting intensively since the very entry of the F-35 into the service," said Italian Air Force Lieutenant General Gianni Candotti, Air Force Operational Commander. "The close collaboration gave us the opportunity to test and improve shared technical and tactical knowledge, enhance overall coordination and strengthen bonds among nations who are operating the F-35," he added.
The main operating base for Falcon Strike was Amendola Air Base in the south east of Italy. Assets were also deployed to Trapani Air Base on Sicily and Decimomannu Air Base on Sardinia or flew in from their respective home bases. The exercise live-flying took place in the skies above Calabria at the southernmost tip of mainland Italy and over Sardinia. An expeditionary scenario involving hot pit refueling was executed at Pantelleria Island southwest of Sicily.
Besides creating an increased level of force protection for the high value assets that modern fighter aircraft are, the exercise was aimed at conducting air operations in a dynamic and congested environment using airspace and training arrangements optimised for 5th generation fighters.