F-35B, Rosso to the Defense Commission: "the Air Force moves and will only move in the institutional field"


(by Mario Galati) Also Tom Kington su Defense News he spoke from the other side of the world, from the United States, of the "quarrel" that is affecting the Italian Navy and Air Force: the subject of the dispute is the F-35B, the vertical take-off one. 

The timing of the article makes you smile considering the appeal of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Alberto Rosso, who spoke at the hearing of the IV Defense Commission of the Chamber of Deputies a few days ago. Addressing the honorable members of the Commission but also to all those who listened or would have listened to the intervention in live streaming, he said: "As you have noticed, I have not touched on an apparently secondary but critical issue, that relating to the vertical take-off F-35B, I would like to address a prayer to this Commission: whatever you hear from sources that are often not institutional but that are not so balanced I ask the courtesy to listen to all the parts, to hear all the bells because it is the only way to provide you with a clear, comprehensive, institutional picture, because the Air Force moves and will only move in the institutional field to give you the opportunity to have a complex framework in all its sectors and therefore enable you to take the right choices into awareness on the basis of a complete and honest honest knowledge ".

A seal from General Rosso on an unpleasant affair that in some circumstances has put our two Armed Forces in strong opposition. Politics should listen more carefully to the requests of the Air Force and the Navy, both legitimate, and try to resolve them in institutional settings. The crux is that politics does not want to hear about and mention the F-35 program. Program which over the years has become more and more fertile ground for an ideological clash that has little to do with the aircraft, as is happening in recent days with the Mes (the Economic Stability Mechanism). The acquisition of 100 ships, 100 helicopters or 100 tanks is not news for the press, the news is, however, the purchase of just one more F-35. The difference is substantial. This is the main reason why two of our pillars of the Republic, the Navy and the Air Force, are also forced to "battle" for the assignment of the fourth F-35 in the Stovl version.

As the Chief of Staff of the Air Force underlined during his hearing, which I recommend to listen to in its entirety, the Armed Forces (the Air Force in particular) are still able to maintain acceptable levels of efficiency, with the means thought up thirty ' Years ago. Today, Rosso pointed out, we need to think about investments for the next thirty years. Here politics comes into play, the only one that must and can decide on the level of ambition of our country and of Defense. A sector that, as known, is a driving force "essential " also for thenational industry. However, General Rosso has also wisely recognized that the emergency of the pandemic requires efforts in other vital sectors of the country, such as health, education and so on.

Le common problems for all the Armed Forces (also listening to the intervention in the Defense Commission of the Army Chief of Staff, General Salvatore Farina) I am the staff due to the contraction of the workforce descended from Law 244/12, the obsolescence of mezzi e weapon systems (for the Air Force, most of the fleet has well over 30 years of operational life) and the precarious and outdated condition of the infrastructure.

Faced with this scenario and the huge resources that should come from European Next Generation Plan, all politics in a "bipartisan”Should think about investing more in a sector, that of Defense, which as seen is always at the forefront when it is necessary to operate during emergencies but is also one of the fundamental drivers for the national military industry. Defense must also be seen as a virtuous opportunity to create new jobs.

For the sake of information, we considered it appropriate to report in full the article by Tom Kington published on Defense News a few hours ago.

Defense News talks about a long struggle between the Italian Air Force and the Italian Navy for the fourth F35-B that is about to be delivered.
The overall order envisaged for Italy is 30 short take-off and vertical landing aircraft, 15 for the Air Force and 15 for the Navy. The Air Force will also receive 60 F-35As in the conventional "A" version for a total of 75 aircraft in total (the American columnist forgot to mention that the Air Force with 75 aircraft must replace about 250 obsolete aircraft that have reached their operating limit, Tornado and AMX, ed).
After the first two Italian F35-Bs went to the Navy and the third to the Air Force, it is necessary to decide, perhaps within a few weeks, according to Defense News, on who will win the fourth example.

Kington heard about it Alexander Brown, of the IAI:
"There has been competition between the Navy and the Air Force to assign the jets, from a practical point of view the Navy may be entitled to the next one. Once the Navy receives it, it will have three F35-Bs and will be able to start operations from Cavour, which will immediately increase its capabilities and make a difference for Italian military capabilities ".

Kington also quotes a defense source who supports the assignment of the fourth jet to the Navy: "Cavour already faces challenges during deployment with the AV-8s, which are expected to end their operational life in 2025 ″.
The first two Navy F35-Bs were sent to the United States to participate in training at the air base in Beaufort in South Carolina and will return to Italy at the end of 2021, the defense source said.
In the meantime, the Cavour should have reached the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, United States in November, to obtain certification to host the F35-B. The onset of the pandemic has postponed operations until spring next year, the source said.
In addition to the issue of assigning the fourth F-35B, it is still necessary to decide, for reasons related to the rationalization of logistics costs, whether to have a single base for all F-35Bs or not.  
The choice is debated between the Navy base of Grottaglie, in the province of Taranto and the Air Force base of Amendola, in the province of Foggia, where there are also the F-35As already delivered to the Air Force.
IAI Marrone analyst said that if the Navy wins the next F-35B, it would have a more compelling argument for bringing all of its fifth generation jets to Grottaglie. "If you give priority to the delivery of aircraft for Cavour, you automatically give priority to Grottaglie "Brown added.
"The Navy has limited personnel, which will continue to be needed to keep the AV-8s in operation at Grottaglie. He cannot send other personnel to the Amendola base to take care of the F35-B "the defense source said.
The arguments for basing all Italian F-35Bs in Amendola to exploit the Air Force's F-35 infrastructure are also convincing.
"Amendola is the logical choice as the base boasts a high degree of professional capability on the F-35 ″said the retired general Leonardo Tricarico, former head of the Italian Air Force and now president of the ICSA think tank in Rome.
An additional strength of Amendola is that the Air Force's first F35-B did not fly to the United States for pilot training as planned, but spent months in Amendola allowing Air Force personnel to familiarize themselves with the aircraft. .
The reason? The Coronavirus. “The F35-B was supposed to fly to the US in February, but we were asked to delay sending due to the virus, so it went to Amendola", Said an Italian Air Force source who added:"Since then we have shown that we are able to host and manage the "B" version in Amendola as well."  

The same source from the Air Force says: "Having version "A" already fully operational allowed us not only to test the "B" but also to test a mixed fleet ". In July, the Italian Air Force operated the “B” version jet in the area of ​​the Italian island of Pantelleria in the Mediterranean, participating in an exercise to test its landing capabilities on “short” runways. "After the fully operational 'A' version, we now need to move faster with the 'B' ", the Air Force source said.