Italian Air Force F-35 Lightning IIs train at Aviano Air Base for first time ever

F-35 Lightning IIs from Four Nations Integrate with fourth-generation aircraft in Italian Exercise

By Dario Leone
Jun 8 2021
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F-35 Lightning IIs from four nations are participating in exercise Falcon Strike 21 at Amendola Air Base, Italy, from Jun. 7-15, 2021.

F-35 Lightning IIs from four nations are participating in exercise Falcon Strike 21 at Amendola Air Base, Italy, from Jun. 7-15, 2021.

Falcon Strike 21 is a joint multinational exercise with participants from the United States, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The exercise optimizes the integration between fourth-generation and fifth-generation aircraft, increases the level of cooperation in the F-35 logistics and expeditionary fields, and strengthens interoperability of allied and partner air forces during joint operations, Aviano Air Base says in a Press Release.

This year’s exercise is hosted by Italy and will provide multinational forces the opportunity to test and improve shared technical and tactical knowledge, while conducting complex air operations in a multinational, joint force environment. Amendola Air Base is the main operating base for Falcon Strike 21 and all training scenarios will take place in Italian air space.

According to Air Force Magazine, aircraft planned to participate in the exercise include: US Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs from Hill Air Force Base and F-16 Fighting Falcons from Aviano Air Base; US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft; Royal Air Force F-35B Lightning II aircraft; Italian Air Force F-35A and F-35B Lightning II, Gulfstream G550, F-2000 Eurofighter Typhoon, Panavia Tornado, AMX International aircraft, Alenia Aermacci T-346 aircraft, and MQ-1 Predator aircraft; and Israeli Air Force F-35I Adir and Gulfstream G550 aircraft.

In addition to enhancing combat readiness and strengthening bonds between allies and partners, Falcon Strike 21 provides participants the opportunity to develop capabilities in planning and conducting complex air operations, leading to an advanced level of training.

As we have recently reported in May two Italian air force F-35s operated out of Aviano as part of exercise Astral Knight 2021. During that exercise, USAF crew chiefs from multiple units performed cross-service actions such as hot-pit refueling and interoperation servicing with Italian F-35s and personnel.

Also in May, the Hill F-35s flew in exercise Atlantic Trident in France, which focused on integrating fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft too, and included participation from UK.

F-35B Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35B Lighning II VMFA-121 Green Knights, VK00, 169164 / 2015

Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder / U.S. Air Force

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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