Starex 2010, Italian Air Force and Israel Air Force Exercise.

On the first two weeks of October 2010 five F-15I and Five F-16I took part in an bilateral exercise with the Italian Air Force st the Decimomannu Air Base in Sardinia. There they flew at least 2 mission a day above the AWTI Range that run over most of the Mediterranean Island.Italian and Israel Air force are not new to this kind of bilateral meeting at the AWTI range, in fact IDF came in 2009 with ten F-16s but also attempt at the Spring Flag 06 with the F-15s. In the italian range they are able to train their skills on air to air and air to ground operations having after that an in deep analysis capability thanks to the Autonomous Air Combat Manouvering Instrumentation.

Decimomannu Air Base as trainign center run past in the history, in fact in the 1959 the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Italian Air Force and the Western Germany Air Force joint togheter in order to train thei pilots on the island. In the sixties also the Royal Air Force and the United States of America with both the USAF and the USN firm an agreement to use the base as advanced tactical training center. While the RCAF operations in the base ended in the 1970, the other nations keep training always emproving the training capabilities of the range. For example in the 1979 it was introduce the ACMI system, the firts one in Europe. With that system installed the American presence in the base increase exponentially, and usually at least 6 aircrafts from the 527th Aggressor Sqd from Bentwaters were detached at the base. In the eighties the average daily consume of JP8 was araund 1.2M liters erogated with a 51 point hydrant refuelling system, one of the largest in Europe. There were about 60.000 aircrafts movement yearly of wich over 45.000 of tactical fighter. With the end of the cold war and the following budget reduction the RAF and the USAFE stopped using the base, while the Luftwaffe still deploy his own aircraft on the base regurarly. In the recent past also Israele shown interest in the range agreeing with the German Air Force and the Italian Air Force to build the Autonomous Air Combat Manouvering Instrumentation in the AWTI Range.

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F-15I Ra'am 271

The Israeli Air Force brought in 5 F-15I Ra'am and 5 F-16I Sufa from Hatzerim.The F-15I it's the Israel strike version of the Eagle bought in the 1994. It mount the Conformal fuel tank, it's capable of using the Pyton 5 air to air missiles. It's protected by the Elisra SPS-2110 electronic warfare equipment and has an APG-70I radar. It also has a DASH system eneabling both crew to be able to targeting. They order a total of 25 Ra'am reaching the limit imposed by the US Governement and they all fly with the 69th Squadron "The Hammers Squadron". They engaged for the first time the enemies in the 1999 Lebabon war. The F-16I Sufa has been acquired in the 2000 under the Peace Marble V contract, with over 100 aircrafts ordered from the Lokheed Martin. They are an evolution of the F-16DBk52+, but they have over the 50% of the avionics build by Israelis Industries. One of the most notable differencies are a couple of bumps coming out from the nose, they also have the HMS system that eneable the pilot to use the Pyton 5. They also mount the F100-PW229 engine with the APG-68 Radar. they equip the 107th Sq at Hatzerim "Knights of the Orange Tail Squadron"and the 119th Sq, the 201st Sq and the 253rd Sq at Ramon Air Base. The Israeli aircrafts arrive on Sunday and fly three sorties in the AWTI Ranges with a 4+4 missions each day they stay in Sardinia. It was amazing to see these colourful jet performing high performance take off in the warm clear sky of Decimomannu.

The Italian Air Force came in force. In fact there were 8 F-16 ADF, 4 from the 5th Wing of Cervia AB, and 4 from the 37th Wing of Trapani AB . There were also 6 AMX from both the 51st Wing of Istrana AB and the 32nd Wing of Amendola. Finally there were 4 Tornado ECR from the 50th Wing and 4 Tornado IDS from the 6th Wing of Ghedi AB. It was the last occasion to see the 23rd Sqd "Veltro" in action as it was disbanded in early 2010 returning their jets to the USAF. It was also one of the latest tests of the AMX-ACOL before heading to the Afghanistan at Herat were they replaced the Tornados of the 154th Sqd. The ACOL upgrade on the AMX was minded to reduce the reparing time for the aircraft permitting a better avaiability, beside that they also include some avionics enhance like Litening and Recce Lite pod Integration. They flew two mission a dayand they also included in the mission package also an AMI KC-130 and a NATO E-3B in order to increase the training scenario's variables. During the exercise there was a Red and Blue Force and every component could take part at both sides depending on the planning, so it wasn't uncommon that Ra'am's were protected from Sufa's by Italian F-16s, and viceversa.

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Text and Photo by Marco Sommacal