The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare) has officially included the 51st Wing at Istrana Air Force Base, northern Italy, among the units responsible for national air defense. This follows the assignment of Eurofighter Typhoon fighters to the 132nd Flight Group. The announcement brings the number of Eurofighter Typhoon bases in Italy to four. Eurofighter aircraft have been deployed at Istrana on QRA duties since 2017, though until now deployments were carried out in rotation by aircraft and crews from the 4th Wing in Grosseto (Tuscany), the 36th Wing in Gioia del Colle (Puglia) and 37th Wing in Trapani (Sicily).
The changes at Istrana Air Force Base — with the arrival of Eurofighter fighters to the 132nd Flight Group — represent the latest part of the 51st Wing’s current transformation. This will eventually be concluded when the Eurofighter replaces the AMX aircraft. In 2019, following the activation of the maintenance bays of the Eurofighter line – specific work areas equipped for technical inspections – the 51st Wing reached full maintenance capacity, allowing the staff of the Gruppo Efficienza Aeromobili (GEA) at Istrana to take over the other Eurofighter Units in the aircraft maintenance cycle.
The Typhoon was designed originally as an air superiority fighter and is manufactured by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo that conducts the majority of the project through a joint holding company, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH formed in 1986. The Eurofighter Typhoon is a highly agile aircraft, designed to be a supremely effective dogfighter in combat. Later production aircraft have been increasingly better equipped to undertake air-to-surface strike missions and to be compatible with an increasing number of different armaments and equipment, including Storm Shadow and the Brimstone.
Italian Air Force ordered 96 Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon of which 90 have been delivered and 89 in operation as of February 2018 (one lost in an airshow flight). On 16 December 2005, the F-2000 Typhoon reached initial operational capability (IOC) with the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare). It is in service with two squadrons, in addition to the Reparto Sperimentale Volo, the IAF’s test and evaluation unit. Its F-2000 Typhoons were put into service as air defence fighters at the Grosseto Air Base, and immediately assigned to Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) at the same base.