RNLAF F-16s travel to Italy for training exercise

Between November 12-26 the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu)/Royal Netherlands Air force (RNLAF) sent multiple F-16AM (MLU) Fighting Falcons over to Gioia del Colle Air Base, Italy, for Exercise Gioia Falcon.

The RNLAF deployed 312 Squadron and its F-16s from Volkel Air Base, Netherlands, to carry out the multi-national training exercise with the 36th Stormo/Fighter Wing of the Italian Air Force and its Eurofighter Typhoon F-2000s. 

Typhoons and F16s
Italian Eurofighter in formation with Dutch F-16s during exercise Gioia Falcon in southern Italy. RNLAF

Exercise Gioia Falcon consisted of multi-domain training flights including close air support and defensive counter air missions. Other Italian Air Force fixed- and rotary-wing platforms participated in the exercise, including F-35A stealth fighters in the air-to-air mission sets and HH-139 SAR helicopters during a combat search and rescue training mission.

Italian G550 conformal airborne early warning and control (CAEW) aircraft and a NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft supported the exercise by providing advanced situational awareness to both aircrew and commanders on the ground throughout the various training missions. 

Dutch F-16s
Dutch F-16s carry out integration training with their Italian colleagues over the Mediterranean Sea. RNLAF

Col Antonio Vergallo, commander of the 36th fighter wing said: "Exercise Gioia Falcon provided great results. It demonstrated perfect synergy between flight crews and maintenance teams, allowing integration and interoperability among different generation of aircraft and between the air and surface components.”

Objectives of the training exercise were to standardise tactics and procedures between both nations during multi-national scenarios. It also allowed the RNLAF to practice the deployment of a unit to a foreign country and simultaneously tested the Italian Air Force’s capabilities to both train with and host a foreign force unit and platform.

"It has been a great opportunity to exchange operational experience among NATO pilots and operationally assess the great swing role capability of the Eurofighter in an integrated scenario," concluded Vergallo.