The heavy rain that forced organizers to cancel the last day of the Dubai Airshow was a metaphor for the main defense story of the week. The prospect of the UAE ordering a new fighter–specifically the Eurofighter Typhoon–had been talked up by UK officials in particular, and reinforced by an eve-of-show visit by the British Prime Minister.
Italian Air Force
Assembly of the first F-35 Joint Strike fighter to be produced outside the U.S. has begun in Italy. Manufacturers delivered major structural components to the new final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility at Cameri Air Base, west of Milan, where the first F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant, designated AL-1, will be assembled for the Italian air force. The facility is operated by a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Alenia Aermacchi.
Alenia Aermacchi and U.S. manufacturer ATK said they completed first-phase ground and flight tests of a multi-mission version of the C-27J airlifter equipped with a gun system pallet. At a Paris Air Show briefing last month, the companies displayed video from the test series from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, this spring, showing a technician firing an ATK GAU-23 30mm cannon from the aft port side of the aircraft. “The test events were designed and certified by the U.S.
Since the first quarter of 2012 two Aermacchi M346s have been flying under Italian air force colors, carrying out the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) campaign. From March 5 to Sept. 5, 2012 the two Masters logged some 130 flight hours in the hands of the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (test flight wing) of Pratica di Mare.
The NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) announced this week that it has awarded a contract to the trinational Panavia consortium to further upgrade the Tornado for the Italian air force. The latest in a series of upgrades will allow Italian Tornados to carry the small-diameter bomb (SDB) and the advanced anti-radiation guided missile (AARGM).