Because the dispute between the Air Force and the Navy on the F-35B continues

Because the dispute between the Air Force and the Navy on the F-35B continues

Here's how the diatribe between the Air Force and the Navy continues in Italy following the award of the next (fourth) F-35B

The clash between the Air Force and the Italian Navy is rekindled for the assignment of the fourth F-35B destined for Italy.

The F-35B is the Stovl (short takeoff and vertical landing) version of the fifth generation Joint Strike Fighter manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The Jsf Lightining II program is implemented in cooperation by the United States and Italy is a second level partner.

The Navy has ordered a total of 15 F-35B fighters. The Air Force also ordered the same quantity of Model B, as well as 60 F-35A Ctol (conventional take-off).

The knot to be solved is the distribution between the two armed forces and then the management and use of the 30 specimens (15 each) of the Stovl version of the F-35 fighter. A diatribe that risks delaying the achievement of the Initial Operating Capacity (Ioc) for that weapon system.

"After the first two Italian F-35Bs went to the Navy and the third to the Air Force, a decision is expected, perhaps within a few weeks, on who will get the fourth next year as the two military branches compete for primacy in the program, ”Tom Kington reported in Defense News .

The Italian F-35s leave the assembly line of the Faco di Cameri, the plant managed by Leonardo and used to assemble F-35s for Italy and the Netherlands.

Back in Italy, in addition to deciding who will have the fourth aircraft, the officials also continue to discuss whether all Italian F-35Bs, including the Air Force and Navy jets, should be grouped into a base to save on logistics, and if so, who should run it.

All the details.


Stovl vertical take-off aircraft are the only aircraft that can be used by the Navy on Italian ships, replacing the current AV8Bs. The F-35Bs represent the main weapon system of the Cavour aircraft carrier, flagship of the Mm, built in the Fincantieri Riva Trigoso shipyard and put into operation in 2008.

"There has been a tug-of-war between the Navy and the Air Force over who gets the fighters first, but from a practical point of view the Navy may be entitled to the next one." Alessandro Marrone, head of the Iai Defense program told Defense News .

"Once the Navy receives it, it will have three F35-Bs and will be able to begin operations from Cavour, which will immediately increase its capabilities and make a difference for Italian military capabilities." Brown added.


The Air Force will instead deploy the F-35B on overseas expedition missions where it can be taken on short runways. As pointed out by an insider who prefers anonymity to Start, “the F35-B was born not so much to fly from aircraft carriers. The aircraft carrier model is the F35-C (for aircraft carriers equipped with a catapult) and if the problem were to launch aircraft from aircraft carriers, the Model C would fully meet the needs of US Navy and US Marines. The advantage of the F35-B is instead that of being able to operate from short runways (a requirement expressed by the Marines, as well as to be able to use smaller ships). By significantly multiplying the airports available on the ground and therefore the initial riskability of the airplane ”.

For this reason the F35-B interests the Am. In other words, to reacquire "a capacity lost with the radiation of the G91-R, which could also operate from improvised runways, and which would have proved necessary on several occasions in the last 20 years, avoiding additional costs and risks suffered in various operations".


In the meantime , Cavour's upgrade phase began , a month after the second F35B of the Italian Navy – the B-02 – took off from Leonardo's Faco in Cameri to the United States. The destination was the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina, where the aircraft joined the first F-35B (B-01) to support the training of Italian pilots and technicians. The Italian Navy received its first two Stovl fighters in 2018 and 2019.

With the entry into the fleet of the new aircraft, the Italian Navy, together with the US Navy and the British Royal Navy with the Queen Elizabeth, will be the only navies in the world to have aircraft carriers capable of operating with F-35 aircraft.


But Nave Cavour is far from embarking on a minimal operational component due to the quarrel between the navy and the air force for the assignment of the F-35Bs.

"The Cavour already faces challenges during its deployment with the AV-8s and they are expected to end their operational life in 2025," a defense source who backed the Navy told Defense News .

In November, the Cavour was supposed to reach Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, in the United States to obtain certification to host the F35-B. But the coronavirus pandemic has postponed the visit until spring next year, the source told Defense News .

These activities will represent the first important steps to reach the initial operational capability of the aircraft carrier with its renewed Italian naval aviation capability.

The F-35B will replace the Navy's AV-8B Plus Harrier II and will be on board the Cavour aircraft carrier and the new LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) Trieste. It is not entirely clear, however, where the Air Force F-35Bs will be deployed.


The two Navy F35-Bs now Beaufort will return to Italy at the end of 2021, according to the defense source.

As Tom Kington remarked, "Once back in Italy, in addition to deciding who will have the fourth aircraft, officials also continue to discuss whether all Italian F-35Bs should be grouped into a base to save on logistics, and if so , which".

The choice is between the base of the Marina di Grottaglie in Puglia, where the AV-8s are based, or that of the 32 ° Stormo di Amendola, also in Puglia, to which the F-35As are already assigned.

For Alessandro Marrone, if Mm wins the next F-35B, he would have one more argument to bring all his fighters to Grottaglie. "If you prioritize the delivery of planes to board the Cavour, you automatically prioritize Grottaglie," he told Defense News .

“The Navy has limited personnel, which will continue to be needed to maintain the AV-8s in Grottaglie for a while. He cannot send other personnel to the Amendola air force base to deal with the F35-Bs, ”noted the defense source.


The arguments for basing all Italian F-35Bs in Amendola to exploit the Air Force's F-35 infrastructure are also convincing.

Already a year ago an insider who prefers anonymity reported to Start : “What is certain is that the program finances and foresees the adaptation works of the bases of Amendola, already carried out in large part and of Ghedi . There is no trace of Grottaglie, current base of the Harriers in any official document. What is known is that the rumors of an Italian Joint Strike Force for the Air Force and Navy F-35Bs are increasingly frequent. And they should have a single base (we are talking about Amendola), with a single logistic and training line (on the ground) ".


"Amendola is the logical choice as the base boasts a high degree of professional capability on the F-35," said retired general Leonardo Tricarico, former head of SMA and now president of the ICSA think tank.

As Defense News reports, “A further strength of Amendola is that the first AM F35-B did not fly to the United States for pilot training as planned, but spent months at the Apulian base allowing the personnel of the Air Force to get used to. "The F35-B was supposed to fly to the United States in February, but we were asked to delay delivery due to the coronavirus," an Air Force source said.

“We have since proven that we can host and manage the B version. Having the F-35As has allowed us not only to test the F-35B, but also to test a mixed fleet. Vindicating our decision to have both planes, ”the source added.

At the end of July, the Air Force tested its expeditionary capacity on the island of Pantelleria with the F-35B aircraft as protagonist. In the exercise, the fighter has shown that it can also land on an old and short runway built in the 1930s.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Thu, 22 Oct 2020 05:58:54 +0000.