Second F-35B for the Italian Air Force Flies For the First Time

BL-5 is the fifth Italian F-35B, and the second destined to the 32° Stormo (Wing).

On March. On March. The aircraft, code 32-18, and serial MM7455 were the second. F-35B to be assigned to the 32° Stormo (Wing)Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force)

As happened for the test flights of the other F-35s, a single Eurofighter 2000, belonging to the 51° Stormo, accompanied the fifth generation aircraft as safety chase. These images were provided by our friends at BestShotAircraftThe F-35B is shown in STOVL mode. The program requires six tests, including one in STOVL mode.

As we have often said, The AviationistThe Italian Government currently has 90 F-35s. 60 are F-35As while the remaining 30 are F-35Bs. 15 F-35Bs of those 30 will be delivered to the Navy and 15 the Air Force. The Lightning II will replace the Navy’s ageing AV-8B+ Harrier II and will be embarked on the Cavour aircraft carrierand the new LHD Trieste. It is not yet clear where the F-35s land-based.

The Navy and Air Force have worked together in recent months to develop the national capability to project the new fifth-generation aircraft from the sea. They also operated jointly in situations where conventional aircraft landing strips are not available. Notable are the first landing of the F-35B of the Italian Air Force on the Italian Navy ITS Cavour aircraft carrierPantelleria island, and the joint training of both forces.

MM7455/32-18 During the test flight. (Photo: Roberto Resnigo)

“The goal is to achieve an expeditionary capacity both from land and from sea [aircraft carrier]By utilizing the F-35B assets of the Navy & Air Force in an integrated and collaborative manner, in accordance to the prerogatives of the Chiefs of the Armed Forces. There will be increasingly profitable synergies that will allow a unified use of the STOVL capacity: depending on the domain, the F-35Bs will be put under the operational control of one or the other service, always responding to the Joint Chief of Staff”, Adm. Cavo Dragone said in that occasion.

Italy will not adopt the British model, meaning that there won’t be a Lightning Force with a joint Squadron equipped with F-35Bs jointly flown and maintained: the Italians aim at a “joint capability” with the Italian Air Force and Navy operating their own aircraft in their own units. When necessary, F-35Bs will operate under one chain of command from land-bases and from aircraft carriers or landing helicopter docks (like LHD Trieste which will be able to accommodate the aircraft next season) through a TOA.

Another image of BL-05 taken during a test flight on Mar. 14, 2022. (Image credit: Ilaria Barbavara)

The Aeronautica Militare, Marina Militare, and the Aeronautica Militare will each operate 15 F-35Bs: the Air Force will use Lightning II to replace its AMX (that will be retired this year), while Navy will use the 5th-generation aircraft to replace its AV-8B+ Harrier II (whose retirement was planned for 2024-2025). equipped with at least 8 F-35Bs).

F-35B at Cameri Airfield on base turn (Image credit: Marcello Alongi)


Stefano D’Urso is a contributing writer for TheAviationist. He is based out of Lecce, Italy. He is an engineering student full-time and an aspiring pilot. He is also an amateur pilot and a flight simulation enthusiast.

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