Italian air force integrates with U.S., coalition partners during Red Flag 16-2

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jake Carter
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.--The key to success in any military operation comes down to teamwork and integration.

Aircrews and ground personnel work hand in hand in combat operations which can determine a day’s success, but while not in combat, flying units from around the world can come to Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to learn the skills that they can integrate into their missions.

The Italian air force’s No. 9 Squadron from Grosseto, Italy, traveled more than 6,000 miles to hone their skills and share knowledge with coalition partners during the two-week exercise.  

Col. Marco Bertoli, Italian air force combat forces command, detachment commander for Eurofighter Typhoon at Nellis, says working together with U.S. forces and other coalition partners is key to success for any operation.

“Our integration with U.S. and Turkish (air force) allies has been great for us,” said Bertoli. “Integration is the key for success in any operation in which we work with our partners. In order to prepare our pilots and technicians for future operations, Nellis and Red Flag is the right experience for us to integrate as a single big force.”

For the Italian air force, this is not their first time participating in Red Flag exercises, but this is the first time they are flying with the Eurofighter Typhoons during the exercise.

With this being the first time the Italian Eurofighter Typhoon has participated in Red Flag, Bertoli is thankful for the opportunity to come out here.

“I’m very proud to be the commander of the first Italian Eurofighter squadron to take part in Red Flag and I’m really thankful to the U.S. Air Force for having us here and putting together this exercise to benefit our training.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter with air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities.

“It has been a great learning experience. I think our Typhoons and aircrews performed very well in this very unique environment,” said Bertoli. “During the first two or three days (of the exercise), the learning curve was very steep because of integrating with everyone, but after that I think the force all came together and  performed very well.”

Bertoli reiterates that integration with other units and coalition partners are what make the mission successful and the training relevant for future operations.

“If you want to operate in modern scenarios, you need to integrate with the exchange ideas with your partners,” said Bertoli. “We need to work as a unique force at Nellis and we should design an exercise just like Red Flag in Europe because the training is very beneficial.”

When Red Flag 16-2 ends, the Italian air force hopes this valuable training can transfer over to the personnel that were not able to attend.

“The Italian air force considers Red Flag to be the most important place in the world to train our pilots,” said Maj. Davide Tortora, Italian air force headquarters public affairs officer. “Here we can train in air to air and air to ground where we hope our young pilots can bring this experience back to Italy and they can share with other pilots so we can enhance training in our home country.”

Red Flag provides an exchange of ideas through a series of intense training scenarios daily for joint and coalition units to enhance combat readiness and effectiveness for future real world missions. The exercise concludes on March 11.