In addition to Qatar and Germany, Japan has now agreed to send its military pilots to the Italian Air Force’s and Leonardo’s International Flight Training School (IFTS) for operational training.
The Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, general Alberto Rosso signed a technical arrangement via a virtual meeting for the training of Japanese military pilots on advanced training courses at the IFTS on October 26 alongside the Chief of Staff of the Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF), General Shunji Izutsu.
Signed during a virtual meeting between the two Generals, the agreement now allows Japanese military pilots to attend the advanced training courses (Phase IV) at the IFTS. The two nations already have a strong working relationship both operating the same platforms, the Boeing KC-767 tanker and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II.
General Alberto Rosso, before signing the document, said: “Today is an important and historical date. I am proud and honoured to be able to sign this agreement, which will outline for both countries the track for growing together, for sharing professional skills, allowing our staff to work in close contact, synergy and friendship. This is another important step in the collaboration between our Air Forces: we are already cooperating with great success in many areas, for example having common platforms such as the F-35 aircraft and the KC-767 tanker. The distance that separates us today is geographical only, but our countries are close, joined in harmony on many themes and historically connected. We remember, for example, the “Rome - Tokyo flight” of the pioneer Arturo Ferrarin, which we celebrated last week in his hometown of Thiene (North Italy), a historic undertaking and also a powerful symbol of the strong and lasting bond that joins our two countries."
This is a joint project between the Italian Air Force, Leonardo, and CAE. The IFTS is an advanced flight training centre is currently located at the 61st Wing's Lecce Galatina Airbase in southern Italy, but a facility is currently being constructed at Decimomannu Air Base on the island of Sardinia where the IFTS will relocate to next year.
The IFTS delivers fighter training to the Italian Air Force and third-party customers with a training programme that includes classroom, simulator, and live-flying training, utilizing the Leonardo M-346 advanced jet trainer and ground-based training systems.
After a visit made by a JASDF delegation to Lecce-Galatina Air Force Base in September 2020, Japan's interest culminated after witnessing the training capabilities developed by the Italian Air Force around the T-346A and training systems developed by Leonardo.
An increase in JASDF student pilots at the IFTS will now happen in the forthcoming years. It will now also be a possibility that JASDF instructors could work alongside Italian colleagues at the school.
Chief of Staff of the JASDF, General Shunji Izutsu, said: “Signing today the technical arrangement, I deeply appreciate your and your staff’s extensive support and cooperation. I believe that this is a significant step to deepen defense cooperation and exchanges between the Koku-Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) and Italian Air Force. This is one of your great achievements. Let me extend my heartfelt respect to your achievements and gratitude to your contribution to Japan-Italy relationship. I really wish your continuous success and prosperity, and progress for the Italian Air Force.”