Above the sands of the Negev, AMX Tornado Airplanes of the Italian Air Force roamed the skies. They surpassed the speed of sound, dropped ammunition, “fought” enemy aircrafts and attacked targets
Shani Poms | photography: Lior Kestner
The Italian Air Force left Israel after finishing a cooperation exercise with the combat squadrons of the Israeli Air Force. This was the Italian Air force’s third visit to the Southern Ovda Airbase: “We have a lot of appreciation for the Israeli Air Force, which is famous for its professionalism”, said Major Marco, Head of the Italian representatives. “In order for us to work together, we have to understand each other’s standards”.
During the first week of the training, the Italian AMX Tornado pilots practiced with the Israeli enemy simulation squadron, “Flying Dragon”, which was responsible for making the exercise particularly challenging. “At first, the Italians chose to practice dropping ammunition and dealing with land-to-air threats”, said Major Iftach, Deputy Commander of the “Flying Dragon”. “The second part of the exercise had a more operational aspect to it: We constructed a scenario, simulated an enemy country, and the mission was attacking its targets”.
“Things we can’t perform in Italy”
Between dropping ammunition and crossing borders in take offs (into the simulated enemy country), the Italian pilots were able to train with other combat squadrons: F-16s of the “Golden Eagle” and F-15s of the “Knights of the Twin Tail”, all fighting together against the “enemy” formation.
The exercise above the southern Israeli skies is familiar to the Israeli Aerial Crew members, but supplies the Italian pilots with an unknown, wide aerial space. “We can fly a lot lower here”, explains Major Marco. “In Italy there are many crowded cities which are densely populated and so we can’t fly in low altitudes, as a country involved with NATO. This experience contributed to our operational work significantly”.