F-35B: joint exercise of the Air Force and the Navy in Alghero

(To air Force)

Increase the range of action for the projection of aerospace power, exploiting the STOVL (Short Take Off and Vertical landing) characteristics, i.e. the short take-off and vertical landing capabilities of the F-35B fighters, through the ALARP system (Air Landed Aircraft Refueling Point) - basically a ground refueling, with engines running (hot pit in jargon) - to facilitate its operation on short or damaged tracks. 

With this objective, on Wednesday 31 August 2022, a joint exercise was held at the Airport Detachment of Alghero (SS), in Sardinia, involving aircraft and personnel from the Air Force and the Navy. 

In many operating theaters, in fact, there are no runways suitable for the operations of conventional take-off aircraft, with the consequent need to deploy the aircraft on bases far from the actual theater of operations, with an increase in costs and risks. The short take-off and vertical landing characteristics, however, offer the F-35Bs enormous flexibility and agility of use, thus allowing them to be positioned close to crisis areas, right from the earliest stages.

This type of exercise, as has already happened in recent months on the island of Pantelleria, as part of the air expeditionary capacity of the Italian Air Force, involves the use of a so-called "austere base" (land-based capacitive segment) - in this case reproduced on the airport of Alghero - where the F-35Bs of Aeronautica and Marina simulated rapid redeployment operations towards a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in a high-risk area of ​​operations. 

The aim, therefore, is to reduce intervention times in a highly disputed area of ​​operations and, at the same time, to consolidate the level of joint cooperation between the Air Force and the Navy in the logistics and expeditionary field of the respective F-35B aircraft, as underlined the chief of staff of the Air Force, general of the air squad, Luca Goretti.

"We always said - has explained - that we have to look for short runs because there are so many around the world but we cannot train in those places. We have to find similar places in Italy; Alghero, Pantelleria and perhaps other similar sites will be very useful for operationally growing this weapon system, a capacitive adhesion system for the projectability of our component. This activity, therefore, is a continuation of our growth activity in the Air Expeditionary sector ".

The exercise was carried out with a KC-130J aircraft of the 46 ^ air brigade of Pisa of the Italian Air Force with an F-35B of the 32nd wing of Amendola (Fg) and a counterpart aircraft of the Italian Navy, while the ALARP system ( Air Landed Aircraft Refueling Point), on the other hand, was operated by the personnel of the 3rd wing of Villafranca (VR).

The activity was organized and coordinated by the command of the air team, made use of the aerospace operations command of Poggio Renatico (FE) as tactical controller e task unit, with the aim of reproducing an operational scenario, in which aerial operations and logistic support are carried out with 5th generation aircraft. 

This training follows a series of similar activities that the Air Force has carried out both independently and in collaboration with other Armed Forces and other Nations. Among these, the training event carried out with the "Cavour" aircraft carrier and the HMS Queen Elizabeth last November and the one, already mentioned, always with Navy aircraft in Pantelleria, to promote interoperability between the two Armed Forces, as also recalled by the commander-in-chief of the naval team, team admiral Aurelio De Carolis, present in Alghero .

Again with this in mind, however, in June, for the first time a pair of Air Force F-35Bs was deployed for a short and limited period of time on the Icelandic airport of Keflavìk, where they were already deployed. four F-35As of the 32nd Wing for the NATO operation of Air Policing "Northern Lightning III".