The Italian Air Force has officially included the 51° Stormo at Istrana Air Force Base, northern Italy, among the units responsible for national air defence after a Eurofighter fleet was deployed to the base. The 51° Stormo is currently operating with one flying squadron (132° Gruppo) which is equipped with two different fighter aircraft types, specifically the Eurofighter Typhoon and AMX. This deployment brings the total number of operative Eurofighter bases in Italy up to four. The 51° Stormo aims to transfer entirely to the Eurofighter Typhoon, gradually phasing out the AMX.
The Typhoon has both air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities, which will enable the Stormo to carry out the same missions as they previously performed with two different fleets, with only one single type of aircraft. The changes at Istrana Air Force Base — with the arrival of Eurofighter fighters to the 132° Gruppo — represent the latest part of the transformation. 51° Stormo formally changed its mission in September 2019, adding the ‘provision of an air defence service’ to its assigned tasks.
Colonel Massimiliano Pasqua, Commander of the 51° Stormo, said:”The phase out of the AMX is necessary for the future of 51° Stormo as a fighter unit, as managing two very different aero-tactical fleets was proving to be a challenge.The number of pilots assigned to the 132° Gruppo is constantly increasing, to the point that we perceive that the other two Squadriglia, the 252a and 253a, will be ‘populated’ by pilots flying the new Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.”
Originally, Eurofighter Typhoons were assigned to these three airbases. Until recently, Italian Air Force deployments to Istrana were carried out in rotation by aircraft and crews from the 4° Stormo in Grosseto (Tuscany), the 36° Stormo in Gioia del Colle (Puglia) and 37° Stormo in Trapani (Sicily).Leonardo delivered the latest brand new Italian Eurofighter to the 132° Gruppo during a small, COVID-19 proof-ceremony at Istrana Air Base on the 23rdof October 2020. The future of the 51° Stormo with the ‘Swing Role’ Eurofighter Typhoons looks bright!