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Italian Air Force Graduates Italian Navy’s New F-35B Pilots

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F-35B pilots
Personnel from Air Force and Navy pose for a photo after the graduation in front of both services’ F-35Bs. (Photo: Italian Air Force)

The pilots attended the ground school at MCAS Beaufort and then continued their training at Amendola Air Base, acquiring the Limited Combat Ready qualification.

The Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) recently graduated three new Marina Militare (Navy) F-35B pilots at Amendola Air Base, home of the 32° Stormo (Wing). The Navy pilots previously attended the ground school at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, before moving to Amendola and complete their training with the Air Force, acquiring the Limited Combat Ready qualification.

In order to complete the qualification course, both the Air Force and Navy dedicated a team of instructors and technical personnel coordinated by the Training and Standardization Support Center of the 32nd Wing. The pilots took part to multiple flight activities and mission sets, reaching the required preparation to employ the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing variant of the 5th gen fighter jet.

This joint training is part of the synergy both services created since both employ the F-35B. In fact, in addition to standardizing the Techniques, Tactics and Procedures, both services often train together in expeditionary scenarios from austere locations and on the Italian Navy’s ITS Cavour aircraft carrier. Moreover, the Navy’s F-35B are currently based at Amendola Air Base for  more efficient management of the fleet, until there are enough aircraft ready to be based at Grottaglie Naval Air Station.

The Italian Air Force mentioned in its statement that two new Navy pilots already started their training at Amendola to transition on the F-35B and achieve the LCR qualification. After that, pilots will continue to train for the full combat readiness with their assigned squadrons, which for the Marina Militare is the Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati (Embarked Aircraft Squadron) currently transitioning from the AV-8B+ Harrier II.

Until the end of 2022, the Italian Navy trained its F-35B pilots and technicians at MCAS Beaufort with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501. At the end of the agreement with the USMC, the two Italian F-35Bs based at Beaufort returned in Italy. Back then, the captions of the USMC’s photos stated that the Italian Navy F-35B training program that would be located at Amendola Air Base.

In the past, there have been disagreements whether the Italian F-35B should all go to the Navy or shared with the Air Force and also if they should all be based at the same airfield. However, the Italians now aim at a “joint capability” with the Italian Air Force and Navy operating their own aircraft in their own units. Still, when needed, the F-35Bs of both services will integrate and operate under a single chain of command from land-bases or from an aircraft carrier or landing helicopter dock.

Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.





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