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Italian Eurofighter Units Gather For ‘Typhoon Flag 2024’ Exercise

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An F-2000 of the 10° Gruppo takes off for a morning mission. (All images credit: Stefano D’Urso / The Aviationist)

The exercise precedes the deployment of the Typhoon fleet to Red Flag – Akaska in the U.S.

The Italian Air Force is currently conducting Exercise “Typhoon Flag 2024”, from March 11 to 29, at Gioia del Colle Air Base, home of the 36° Stormo (Wing). Compared to the previous years, this year’s edition of Typhoon Flag was moved up as it was also functional to the Red Flag – Alaska exercise, one of the two most important exercises of the year for the Italian Air Force Eurofighter fleet (the other being Ex. Pitch Black in Australia).

On Mar. 20, 2024, we took part in the second Spotters’ Day of “Typhoon Flag 2024” hosted by Gioia del Colle Air Base. During the event we had the chance to witness the flight operations throughout an entire day and capture the photos and videos you can find in this article.

F-2000As (as the single seater Typhoons are designated in Italy in accordance with the MOD’s Mission Design Series – the two-seaters are designated TF-2000A) belonging to the 4° (from Grosseto), 36°, 37° (from Trapani) and 51° Stormo (from Istrana) flew together during daily complex missions. All squadrons were represented during the exercise: 9° and 20° (TF-2000) Gruppo from Grosseto, 10° and 12° Gruppo from Gioia del Colle, 18° Gruppo from Trapani and 132° Gruppo from Istrana.

Typhoon Flag 2024
A Typhoon from 18° Gruppo lands at the end of its training mission. 

Some missions also saw the participation of the F-35s of the 32° Stormo from Amendola, to improve the cooperation between 4th and 5th generation assets. Supporting assets were represented by a KC-767 tanker, providing Air-to-Air Refueling, and a G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning), providing AEW-BM&C (Airborne Early Warning – Battlefield Management and Communication), both belonging to the 14° Stormo.

Similarly to other Large Force Employment (LFE) exercises hosted recently in Italy, like the NATO Tiger Meet 2023 last year, the areas assigned to the exercise spun from Apulia to the Tyrrhenian Sea and gave the participants ample space to train on all assigned tasks. Specifically, the exercise used the large airspace over the Tyrrhenian Sea east of Sardinia and the Salto di Quirra ranges, as well as the airspace over the Ionian Sea and the Puglia, Calabria and Basilicata regions.

A pilot board its Typhoon assisted by the ground crew before a mission.

The exercise has the goal of consolidating the standardization of all units flying with the Eurofighter while developing new Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures related to the new P2E(b) – Phase 2 Enhancement bravo – software and the new weapons. For an instance, last year the specific goal of the drills was to develop – in a simulated way – advanced tactics for the use of the MBDA Meteor missile.

In fact, the new weapon is about to be introduced in service, with the first phase of the Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) campaign completed in late 2023. The campaign also saw the participation of the Weapons Instructors from the operational squadrons, whose experience is being shared with the younger pilots during each edition of Typhoon Flag.

A Typhoon of the 132° Gruppo takes off in the afternoon.

The standardization among the different units is crucial to take part in NATO missions as part of a Task Force with mixed aircrews. In fact, the Italian Air Force regularly deploys aircraft, aircrews and maintainers from all Typhoon units in Kuwait in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and in the Baltic region or Eastern Europe in support of the NATO Air Policing missions.

Two F-2000s taxi to runway.

We witnessed this interoperability during the Spotters’ Day, with aircraft and pilots from different units launching together not only as part as the same mission package, but also as part of the same flight. In fact, with the exception of few missions scheduled outside the exercise, all four-ship flights we saw departing included aircraft from up to three different squadrons.

An F-2000 of the 12° Gruppo takes off in front of the crowded flight line.

Typhoon Flag allows pilots to train in all mission sets of the Eurofighter Typhoon, including both air-to-air and air-to ground, such as Defensive Counter Air (DCA), Offensive Counter Air (OCA) and Swing Role. The employment of the weapons was simulated, with no actual ordnance (both real and inert) released at any point and the aircraft flying in their usual configuration with two external fuel tanks and the Litening targeting pod, in addition to a captive IRIS-T missile.

A pilot performs pre-flight checks ahead of a mission.

The F-35s participation to the exercise was also shown on the official patch of Typhoon Flag 2024, which featured both an F-2000 and an F-35. The 5th gen fighters, however, did not deploy to Gioia del Colle, flying instead directly from their home base in Amendola, which is located just 72 nm (about 130 km) north-west of Gioia del Colle.

A Typhoon assigned to the 9° Gruppo departs for an afternoon mission.

As we mentioned earlier, Typhoon Flag also serves as a “warm-up” before the Italian Air Force deploys to Alaska, where it will take part in the Red Flag – Alaska 24-1 exercise from April 18 to May 3. The last time the service took part in the exercise was in 2010 when the service deployed there 12 Tornado IDS and ECR aircraft for Red Flag – Alaska 10-3.

The last Red Flag exercise with Italian assets was Red Flag 20-2 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which saw the deployment of F-35s, F-2000s and a G-550 CAEW. Although only the Typhoon’s participation has been acknowledged so far, it is possible a similar detachment will be deployed to Alaska, as already announced for Pitch Black later this year, expected to run from July 15 to August 1.

A pilot leaves his aircraft to the hands of the ground crew after landing.

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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