Italian Air Force Tornado Strike Fighters Deploy to Israel for Desert Training

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All photos: Amir Segev, courtesy of Sky-High.co.il

Eight Italian Tornado strike fighters deployed to Israel Air Force (IAF) Base at Ovda for eight days. The visit came two weeks after elements from four IAF squadrons deployed to Sardinia for two weeks of training.

The aircraft were part of the 6º ‘Alfredo Fusco’ Tactical Fighter Wing from Ghedi and the 50º Stormo ’Giorgio Graffer’ (50th Wing) based in Piacenza. The later deployed Tornado ECR (electronic combat and reconnaissance) from the 155º Gruppo ETS (Electronic Warfare and Tactical Suppression Squadron).

The 155º squadron operates 16 Tornado ECR aircraft, equipped with air defense suppression weapons (AGM-88) and electronic combat and the Israeli Reccelite aerial recce pods.

Ovda is located in the southern Negev desert near the city of Eilat, where they ‘fought’ against the IAF ‘Flying Dragon’ playing the ‘red team’  aggressor squadron.

The Italians were able to experience unfamiliar desert areas, simulating potential contingencies. The area around IAF Base Ovda is instrumented to represent realistic targets typical of full scale conflist as well as asymmetric (hybrid) warfare, along with air defense threats, providing a high level of realistic training unavailable in Europe. Training in such conditions effectively introduces NATO pilots to potential missions.

Italians Tornado ECRs and AMX fighters, along with German Tornado ECRs and Dutch F-16s,  are operating the Reccelite pods in Afghanistan, supporting counter-IED operations in support of ISAF ground operations.