The Frecce Tricolori ( literally “Tricolour Arrows”), officially known as the 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico, is the aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Aeronautica Militare, based at Rivolto Air Force Base, province of Udine, in the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. They were formed in 1961 as an Air Force team, replacing unofficial teams that had been sponsored by various commands by the end of the 1920s.
The team flies the Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN, a two-seat fighter-trainer craft capable of 898 km/h at sea level. With ten aircraft, nine in training and a soloist, they are the world’s largest acrobatics patrol, and their flight schedule, comprising about twenty acrobatics and about half an hour, made them very famous. The team’s official name is: 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico, Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN) Frecce Tricolori.
The Frecce Tricolori were not the first AMI aerobatics team: military aerobatics as a group began in Campoformido, home of the 1st Wing, in the late 1920s under the supervision of Col. Rino Corso Fougier, a pioneer in aerobatic group flying. Subsequently, except in the Second World War period, many fighter wings had demonstration teams such as Cavallino Rampante (Prancing Horse), Getti Tonanti (Thundering Jets), Diavoli Rossi (Red Devils), Tigri Bianche (White Tigers) and Lanceri Neri (Black Lancers). In 1961 the Air Force General Staff decided to form a single aerobatic team, the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (National Aerobatic Patrol).
In 2000 they reached 50,000 flying hours on the Aermacchi MB-339.
In 2005 they won the award for best exhibition at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford, England. They were the first non-Russian unit to receive the Russian Silver Medal for Aeronautical Merit. On 8 September 2007 the Frecce Tricolori took part at the funeral of Luciano Pavarotti in Modena and honoured him with a fly-past leaving green-white-red smoke trails.
In September 2013 it was announced that the team will stop using MB-339’s for the 2018 season and instead will use Aermacchi M-345 HET trainers, which will replace the MB-339 in the Italian air force.