F-35 Lightning aircraft from 617 Squadron ‘The Dambusters’ are in Italy to conduct bilateral training with their Aeronautica Militare counterparts.

Two F-35 aircraft will operate from the Italian airbase in Amendola, having arrived after the successful conclusion of Exercise Lightning Dawn in Cyprus; the four other aircraft from the Cyprus deployment landed safely back at RAF Marham yesterday.

Amendola is home to 32 Stormo of the Italian Air Force, which also operates the F-35.

Describing their arrival, 32 Stormo commander Colonel Davide Marzinotto said in a press release received this morning from the MoD:

“I am delighted to welcome 617 Squadron of the RAF to Amendola. This is an excellent opportunity for us to train together as partners and as NATO allies.”

Italy and the UK were the first European operators of the F-35 to declare Initial Operating Capability, with the Italian Air Force having reached this milestone in November 2018.

Having been proven in operational sorties over Syria, 617 Squadron will use this training to further develop the Squadron’s ability to operate effectively at range from the UK and from an allied airbase.

Officer Commanding 617 Squadron, Wing Commander John Butcher said:

“It has been an absolute privilege to operate alongside the Italian Air Force, a key NATO ally and European friend who also operate Lightning. The mission we flew together today was very successful and proves again the interoperability between nations flying F-35.”

The next step in the development of the F-35, say the MoD, will be the standing-up of 207 Squadron at RAF Marham later this summer.

207 Squadron will be the Operational Conversion Unit for RAF and RN pilots.

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Italy are planning on purchasing at least 15 F35B for the their Cavour carrier. How long will it be before we see a joint exercise with Italian F35s operating off the QE or PoW?

Nigel Collins

Maybe never!

“Italy is already using 11 of the aircraft and has trained 25 pilots, Rosso said, adding that Italy owed 389 million euros to Lockheed that had not yet been paid.

Italy whittled back its F-35 order to 90 jets in 2012, from 131.”


Nigel Collins

“Italy has taken delivery of 10 F-35As and one F-35B. Two of the “A” models as well as the “B” model are being used for training in the U.S., while eight “A” models are now based at the Italian Air Force’s base in Amendola, southern Italy.”


Highly possible and why not? Interoperability should be the way forward to maximise F35 capabilities.


Question: Why are no coloured markings allowed on the F35 – for example on the roundel?


The low visibility requirement seems to be almost everywhere Billy. One problem is the difficulty of distinguishing aircraft at a glance sporting RAF type roundels such as Italy especially when they are using same aircraft as e.g F35 or typhoon. Really miss fast jets in full Blue White and Red regalia

Daniele Mandelli

“full Blue White and Red regalia”

Reminds me of the Boscombe Raspberry Ripples Geoff.


..or Aquafresh toothpaste Daniele!!


I like the F35s dark grey colour, typhoons would look amazing in that colour or black, or our type 45s in black, heck our carriers black, would look so menacing and powerful.

Daniele Mandelli

Wouldn’t a ship in Black stand out a bit Cam!

RAF 22 Groups training aircraft are painted Black. I’d read it makes them stand out, better for training.

Black carriers has given me visions of Mr Vader at the Bridge…

Evan P

I see a grey ship and I want it painted black…

Nigel Collins

The new Italian LPD seems to have acquired a ski jump,she looks like a shrunk QE now with her twin island’s.Italy now has a 24/7 carrier capability as well.

Rob N

I think closer links with the Italians would be in the interest of the UK. In Europe italy is often squeezed out of the German/France Duo. That means Italy could become a close partner of the UK perhaps in the Tempest project. It would be good to see joint Ops off UK and Italian platforms.


Yes expect the Italians and Swedes to join in.

Nigel Collins

Expect Italy to follow suit soon!

“Sweden joins to British next-generation fighter programme”