19 June 2019
June 2019. Galatina Air Force Base (Lecce, Italy). We are in one of the briefing rooms of the 212th Squadron, 61st Wing. The expert ItAF instructor provides students with a detailed explanation of today’s mission. “Dragon 74” will face “Dragon 75” and conduct a series of Basic Fighter Manoeuvers to gain advantage during a simulated combat exercise. Once completed, the exercise will be repeated reversing the roles.
After receiving the latest updates about the mission in the operations room, the pilots go to the flight equipment room to gear up. A few minutes later they are conducting pre-flight checks on their assigned aircraft, which bear the patch logo of the International Flight Training School (IFTS) on the tail fin.
Air-to-air refuelling (AAR), missions with the use of special night vision goggles (NVG), beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air engagements, use of helmet with data projection display (HMD) are just some of the advanced operational skills that students can be provided with through the use of M-346 jets and the sophisticated simulation devices of Leonardo's Ground Based Training System (GBTS) at the base in this south-eastern Italian facility. This helps save precious flight hours that would otherwise have to be completed on the much more expensive front-line fighter aircraft.
The first civilian pilots have started training to become qualified instructors for students enrolled in the so-called phase IV of the training syllabus at Galatina (Lead-In to Fighter Training – LIFT), which is practically the final stage of preparatory training for the employ on board of latest generation fighters, like the Eurofighter or the F-35.
The Italian Air Force's extensive and consolidated flight training expertise and Leonardo's leadership in integrated training provide the foundation for the agreement signed last year to guarantee advanced top level training for the modern air forces at reduced costs.
Leonardo recently delivered the third of four Aermacchi M-346 owned by the company. These are included in the joint project with the Italian Air Force and join another 18 ordered directly by the Air Force. Each day, the constant presence of foreign pilots, students and instructors at Galatina encourages the exchange of experiences and guarantees the ultimate modularity and flexibility of the training syllabus.
The International Flight Training School is getting ready to receive its first students at the Galatina Air Force base where – with the progressive arrival from 2020 of the new M-345, used for phase II and III of the training syllabus - once the training capacity at Galatina is saturated, activities related to phase IV of the syllabus will gradually move to the Decimomannu Air Base in Sardinia (Italy), starting from the end of 2021.
Learn more about the International Flight Training School.