From June 7 to 15, the Italian Air Force hosted exercise Falcon Strike aimed at providing multinational and multi-domain training for F-35 fighter aircraft from three Allies and Partner Israel. A total of 600 participants from the air forces of Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel participated in complex scenarios for aircrews and support teams and staged interoperability training with UK naval units. On a daily basis, the participating air force detachments were presented with new challenges. Missions were focused on operating high-value air assets, conducting air interdiction or close air support missions in combined and joint scenarios.
“This multinational training event fostered the integration process between fourth-generation and fifth-generation weapon systems, a process that the Italian Defence and Italian Air Force have been conducting intensively since the very entry of the F-35 into the service,” said Italian Air Force Lieutenant General Gianni Candotti, Air Force Operational Commander. “The close collaboration gave us the opportunity to test and improve shared technical and tactical knowledge, enhance overall coordination and strengthen bonds among nations who are operating the F-35,” he added.
“The goal during Falcon Strike was to create a secure environment which allows aircrews to plan, brief, fly and debrief missions operated in a 5th generation framework,” said by Lieutenant Colonel Marco Scrivieri, the Falcon Strike Exercise Director.
Modern F-35 fighter aircraft from three Allies and Partner Israel flew integration missions with Italian Eurofighter, T-346, Tornado and AMX jets, US Air Force F-16 fighters, tanker aircraft and conformal airborne early warning aircraft as well as the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elisabeth in the Mediterranean Sea. The main operating base for Falcon Strike was Amendola Air Base in the south east of Italy. Assets were also deployed to Trapani Air Base on Sicily and Decimomannu Air Base on Sardinia or flew in from their respective home bases. The exercise live-flying took place in the skies above Calabria at the southernmost tip of mainland Italy and over Sardinia. An expeditionary scenario involving hot pit refueling was executed at Pantelleria Island southwest of Sicily.
Falcon Strike 21 is a joint, multinational exercise with participants from the United States, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom, that optimizes the integration between 4th and 5th Generation aircraft, increases the level of cooperation in the F-35 logistics and expeditionary fields, and strengthens interoperability of allied and partner air forces during joint operations. . In addition to the F-35A/B from Israel, the US (USMC from HMS Queen Elizabeth), UK (Royal Navy from HMS Queen Elizabeth), and Italy (from Amendola AB), USAF F-16 fighter (from Aviano AB) aircraft will take part in the exercise, along with one IAF Gulfstream “Eitam” reconnaissance plane, two IAF Boeing “Re’em” refueler jets, an Italian Boeing KC767A refueling plane, an Italian KC130J refueling plane, an Italian Gulfstream E.550 CAEW reconnaissance plane and a RAF Airbus KC.2 tanker.