F-35s from four nations are coming together in a large-scale exercise in Italy, during which the fifth-generation fighters will fly alongside several fourth-generation jets.
USAF F-35s from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and F-16s from Aviano Air Base, Italy, are flying in exercise Falcon Strike 21 at Amendola Air Base, Italy, June 7-15. They will join U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs, along with F-35As and F-35Bs from the Italian Air Force, F-35Bs from the United Kingdom Royal Air Force, and F-35Is from the Israeli Air Force.
Additional participating aircraft include the Italian Gulfstream G550, F-2000 Eurofighter Typhoon, Panavia Tornado, AMX International aircraft, Alenia Aermacchi T-346, and MQ-1s.
The Italian-hosted exercise “will provide multinational forces the opportunity to test and improve shared technical and tactical knowledge, while conducting complex air operations in a multinational, joint force environment,” U.S. Air Forces in Europe said in a release.
The exercise is the latest in a series of events aimed at integrating U.S. and international F-35s. Last month, two Italian air force F-35s operated out of Aviano as part of exercise Astral Knight 2021. During that exercise, USAF crew chiefs from multiple units performed cross-service actions such as hot-pit refueling and interoperation servicing with Italian F-35s and personnel, according to an Aviano release.
Earlier in May, the Hill F-35s flew in exercise Atlantic Trident in France, which also focused on integrating fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft, and included participation from the United Kingdom.