The 32° Stormo (Wing) was formed on December 1, 1936 at Cagliari Elmas Airport on two Gruppi (Squadrons): the 38° (49ª and 50ª Squadriglia or Flight) stationed at Aviano and the 89° (228ª and 229ª Squadriglia) at Forlì airport activated with the personnel of the dissolved Squadriglie 194ª and 195ª. On 3 April of the same year the King handed over to Lieutenant Colonel Vincenzo Napoli, first Commander of the 32° Stormo, the flag of Combat. In 1937 the Stormo was assigned the three-engined Siai Marchetti SM.81 called "Bat", while in 1938 he participated in important aerial naval maneuvers on the Gulf of Naples, employing royal bombs on the polygon of Furbara. In 1939, during the transition on the three-engined aircraft Siai Marchetti S.79 called "Sparviero", the 38° Gruppo remained in Elmas while the 89° Gruppo was moved to the airport of Alghero. On June 3, 1940, the 32° Stormo risked himself in Decimomannu. It was not until June 3, 1940. With the outbreak of war the Unit was immediately engaged in operations. He participated in the war against Biserta, against and in the first battle of the Balearic Islands against and the Unit deserved the Silver Medal to Military Valor. In January-September 1941, the Stormo continued to operate in the war and during one of the actions conducted against Gibraltar, on May 8, in a bitter air combat fell the Commander of the 49ª Squadriglia, Captain Armando Boetto, whose memory was awarded a Gold Medal of Military Valor and whose name is now dedicated to the Stormo. The fervent activity during the World War is witnessed by the numerous actions of war and the hours of flight produced; In fact, from June 10, 1940 to September 1, 1941 were 258 war missions for a total of 1,790 flight hours. At the end of this intense period the Unit assumed the name of 32° Stormo Aerosiluranti (Torpedo Wing) and in October 1941 received in assignment the first Savoia Marchetti S.84 in replacement of the aircraft S.79. In May 1942 the Stormo was transferred to Gioia del Colle. In this period he participated in the "Battle of Mid-august" against the largest English convoy ever appeared in the Mediterranean paying a high tribute of sacrifice and blood in the fight. On January 10, 1943, the Stormo was transferred to Lecce with its 38° Gruppo, (89° had become autonomous) where it was flanked by 43° Gruppo Combattimento (Combat Squadron) equipped with reconnaissance Caproni Ca.314. On January 27, 1943, the 32° Stormo was dissolved. Its Gruppi became autonomous. Twenty-four years later, on September 10, 1967, the 32° Stormo was reconstituted at Brindisi Airport with the role of Caccia Bombardieri e Ricognitori (CBR or Fighter Bombers and Reconnaissance); the 13° Gruppo was placed in his employ. The aircraft was the aircraft G 91R which gave way in 1974 to the twin-engine G 91Y. On July 1, 1993, the 32° Stormo was deployed on the Amendola Air Base (Foggia) with its dependencies on the 13° Gruppo CBR, the 201° Gruppo OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) and the 204° Gruppo on the G 91T aircraft. Since July 31, 1995, the 101° Gruppo OCU has been placed under the control of the 32° Stormo to flank the already present 13° Gruppo and, in the same circumstance, was put in position "Framework" the 201° Gruppo OCU. From 15 September the 204° Gruppo, where the last pre-operational training for military pilots took place, was also placed in position "Framework" while on 30 September the aircraft G 91T was removed. Since then, the 13° Gruppo operates on AM-X aircraft and the 101° Gruppo carries out training activities on AM-X T aircraft (two-seater version of the AM-X aircraft). Since December 9, 1997, the 32° Stormo participated in the operation "Deliberate Guard" for the maintenance of peace in Bosnia. This concludes the transition period of the Stormo that reaches full operation on the aircraft AM-X. In the spring of 1999, to face the crisis in Kosovo, was established on the basis of Amendola the AM-X operational section. The same one, placed under the Commander of the 32° Stormo, was composed of aircrafts and crews of the 2°, 3°, 32° and 51° Stormo. and operated on the Balkan territory carrying out more than 220 missions. Subsequently and for each year, the Stormo participates with its Gruppi and its support staff, foreign risks, exercises and real operations with the aircraft AM-X. Noteworthy was the use of the aircraft AM-X also for the surveillance of the airspace of Rome on the occasion of the funeral of the Holy Father John Paul II, for the installation of Pope Benedict XVI and for the signing of the "Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe". But the operational uniqueness of the Unit is linked to the third Gruppo Volo: March 1, 2002 is constituted at the 32° Stormo the Gruppo Velivoli Teleguidati (Teleported Aircraft Squadron) with the task of acquiring and maintaining the ability to conduct air operations with unmanned aircraft "Predator". From February 1, 2005, the Unit takes the signs of the 28° Gruppo "Le Streghe", reconstituted after the dissolution of the 3° Stormo of Villafranca, with the prestigious task of renewing its traditions. With the acquisition of the "Predator" aircraft, the Gruppo is facing a new challenge that puts it at the forefront and at the forefront of the technological potential that can be used in international crisis scenarios. The 28° Gruppo, equipped with Predator aircraft, has operated since its establishment in the field of ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance), maturing an increasing experience as a result of the numerous real activities such as the Operation "Ancient Babylon" in Iraq, the "Unified Protector" operation in Libya and support for the G8 held in the city of L'Aquila, in addition to participating in several exercises in the SAR (Search and Rescue) also in a hostile environment, both on land and sea. The 32° Stormo, first in 2007 with the 28° Gruppo Volo and then in 2009 with the AMX, redeployment with two different cells in Afghanistan; the first, equipped with Predator aircraft under the banner of the Task Group "ASTORE", conducted several sorties in favor of the Italian contingent and allied forces, observing, for several hours, over 6,000 targets while the second, equipped with AMX aircraft under the banner of the Task Group "Black Cats", has worked in reconnaissance missions and support to troops on the ground supporting the ISAF mission day after day. The personnel and aircraft of the 32° Stormo continue today, the operation outside the national borders in Afghanistan, as part of the mission ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) on the air base of Herat, with AMX and "Predator B". At the same time, from 22 July to 09 November participated in the Operation "Unified Protector" which saw its staff engaged with the redeployment on the airport of Trapani Birgi, from 22 July to 31 October, with AMX aircraft operating, according to the mandate received from NATO, both in the role of fighter-bomber and in the role of reconnaissance by using the high-resolution sensors of the system "Reccelite", reaching a total of about 500 hours flown. It has also operated directly from Amendola airport with the MQ-9 "Predator B" remotely piloted aircraft, carrying out ISR missions (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) flying over the areas of interest for operations on the North African country, carrying out missions for a total of about 360 hours of flight. On March 13, 2011, the aircraft Reaper MQ-9 equipment to 28° Gruppo Volo, carried out its first operational mission, within the NATO operation "Joint Enterprise", flying over the territory of Kosovo under the control, remotely, of technical personnel-operating on the base of Amendola, activity carried out constantly until today. Since 2013, the 32° Stormo, always with RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) carries out aerial surveillance activities with the dual purpose of saving lives in danger and identifying the mother ships, used by the boatmen, Operation Mare Nostrum, with a very significant deterrent effect. In December 2013, for a program in the process of transformation and reorganization of the Air Force the 13° Gruppo Volo, after a history of 96 years, is placed in position "Framework". In fact, the future, already outlined, identifies Amendola as the first base in Europe to receive the 5ª generation JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) aircraft. In the employ of the 32° Stormo "Armando Boetto", dislocated on the airport of Amendola, they operate the 101° OCU on aircrafts AMX, the 28° Gruppo on aircrafts Predator, the Gruppo Efficenza Aeromobili (GEA or Aircraft Engineering Squadron) constituted December 10, 2002, the 432° Gruppo STO, the 532° Gruppo SLO, Gruppo Protezione delle Forze (GPF or Force Protection Squadron) and 632ª Squadriglia Collegamenti (Flight Liaison) on MB 339 aircraft.
Source "Aeronautica Militare"
Interview with Major LV (Remote Pilot Aircraft)
- What is the professional background of pilot, sensor operator, mission monitor, image analyst and avionics technician?
The Pilot of RPA of the 28° Gruppo, Commander of the Predator Mission, is a Pilot Officer from the Regular Courses of the Accademia Aeronautica (Air Academy) or Complement Courses, inserted in the 28° Gruppo after obtaining the Brevetto di Pilota Militare (BPM or Military Pilot’s License) thanks to the frequency of flight courses carried out in Italy at the Aeronautica Militare (AM or Italian Air Force) or abroad, in particular at the USAF, and after having gained a solid operating experience of flight in the AM, jet or conventional departments, which allows him to operate in such a diversified operating environment for use and roles as that of RPA AM .
The Sensor Operators, operators of on-board sensors, come from the role Sergeants or Marshals category Supporto Operativo Informazioni e Sicurezza (SOIS or Operational Support Information and Security), normally qualified Analista Dati e Immagini (ADI or Analyst Data and Images) and/or intelligence.
The Mission Monitor, Mission Supervisor, is a SOIS Officer or Controllo Spazio Aereo-Difesa Aerea (CSA-DA or Air Space Control-Air Defense), preferably qualified intelligence. Image analysts come from the roles Officers or NCOs category SOIS qualified ADI, preferably intelligence.
Unlike the Sensor Operators, the Avionics Technicians are NCO Electronic Maintainers qualified on the Weapon System with scheduled frequency of specific theoretical and practical courses.
- How and where are they trained?
The staff is qualified in Italy, at the 28° Gruppo, or in the United States.
A fair share of pilots and sensor operators is in fact enabled to operate with the MQ-1 and MQ-9 Systems at the Holloman AFB (Air Force Base), New Mexico, and then continue the training process aimed at Combat Readiness at the 28° Gruppo.
- How is the shortage of simulators compensated?
At the moment this deficiency is compensated by the constant supervision of qualified instructors APR of the 28° Gruppo that implement an intense training program.
- During the mission, what is their turnover?
The shift work of staff during operational activity varies according to theneeds, although normally it occurs every two hours.
- Are there contacts and exchanges of knowledge and experience with personnel of other Italian and foreign armed forces with APR?
The close cooperation between AM and USAF has enabled a crew exchange program that normally sees the alternation of a pilot instructor and a sensor operator instructor, on a three-year basis.
- We know that the operator at the consolle of the MQ-1/MQ-9 system is able to extend the mission of the aircraft by exploiting the upward currents present in the theater, as he is not able to perceive the same sensory, How exactly does this happen?
AM evaluates the element "man" as a pivotal element able to exploit fully and with maximum effectiveness the advanced technology made available to him.
This is done through effective selection and training processes, and the experience that the staff has the opportunity to mature in the most delicate operating contexts.
Only thanks to the above factors the pilot of RPA AM can "merge" to the Weapon System able to interpret the sensors on board of the aircraft as if they were their own body sensors.
- Does the control of the aircraft in theatres outside the area, or at least thousands of kilometres away from home base, require the presence of personnel on site?
RPA operations in Theatres Outside Area require a minimum presence of
- In the context of Operation Mare Nostrum, where the distances are certainly less, are RPA AM managed by Amendola?
As part of the Operation Mare Nostrum, the RPA AM, although normally managed by the base of Amendola, can also operate from other air bases.
- Would it be conceivable that the RPA of 28° could interact with piloted aircraft?
The RPA AM aircraft operate constantly in the most complex operating scenarios, in synergy with other types of aircraft providing their fundamental contribution in the exercise of Air Power.
In Afghanistan, for example, AMX and Predator were complementary.
The air component in the fight against asymmetric threats is essential as it ensures persistence and pervasiveness (a constant presence in the area of operations).
During Operation ISAF, AMX and Predator conducted a joint activity to provide full motion video to the forces operating on the ground.
- Could they manage their use?
At the moment APR AM systems can only be conducted by military pilots operating from the cockpit of the system.
- MQ-1 and MQ-9 are equipped with steering?
Certainly: the only difference between MQ-1/MQ-9 aircraft and "piloted" aircraft lies in the fact that the system’s cockpit is not on board the aircraft, but rather thousands of miles away from the aircraft itself.
- Are they able to take off and land on their own?
The procedures provide that take-offs and landings are managed by pilot personnel within the Control Station.
- Maintenance is carried out both at the Group and at the company?
Maintenance processes are normally carried out by the staff of the 28° Gruppo.
- Was the Predator that fell in Iraq on 15 May 2006 able to return to service?
In that particular event the aircraft did not suffer damage, after carrying out the necessary checks, the aircraft returned to line.
- What are the operations, both military and civilian, in which both the Predator A/A+ and the Reaper were used?
Despite the limited reference period, since 2004 Pilotage Systems
Remote AM were employed in Iraq in Operation Ancient Babylon, in Afghanistan in favor of ISAF, in the Operation Unified Protector carried out in the skies of Libya, in Kosovo in support of the KFOR contingent, in missions of surveillance, patrolling, control of territory and national waters, in search and rescue operations and humanitarian support, as in the context of the Mare Nostrum Mission.
- In terms of flight time, what has been achieved so far by the three types of aircraft?
In less than ten years of activity, the MQ-1 and MQ-9 systems have carried out more than 17,000 hours of flight, mostly in the context of the most delicate operations.
Interview with Colonel GC (Commander Center of Excellence Remote Piloting Aircraft)
- What is the role of the RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) Centre of Excellence in AM?
In 2006, the General Staff of Defense assigned to the Aeronautica Militare the leadership of a multi-service Center that provided support to studies, solving problems in the field of capabilities and lines of development of the RPA segment.
It has therefore been designed as an inter-branch department of experts in the field that would be able to promote integration, standardization, capacity and operational growth of the sector, acting as a reference reality for the interoperability and growth of the specific segment.
In summary, the Centre today has the role of supporting the development of the RPA sector, and performs it through the identification of integrated solutions for the benefit of interoperability and the conduct of aviation operations in the sector, also taking care of the basic training of the relevant operators.
- Does it also form personnel of other armed forces?
Yes, since 2010, among those who attend the basic theoretical courses for Operators of RPA class "Micro" and "Mini" we have, according to their needs, also personnel of the other Armed Forces and the Carabinieri.
- Speaking of regulations, standardization and certification, what is meant by "dual use" factors?
The concept of "dual use" expresses the possibility that RPA systems - by virtue of their technical characteristics, connectivity and flexibility of use - can be usefully used also for activities not strictly military, in collaboration with the institutional activities of other Dicasteries (e.g. the contribution to national security during "major events", possible monitoring of the territory in case of natural disasters, search and rescue boats in difficulty, etc.). Thanks to innovative solutions of dynamic management of dedicated areas (c.d. smart segregation), the flight activity with RPA is carried out in complete safety and minimizing the limitations imposed on the remaining air traffic, including civil.
- In relation to the use of RPA within specified airspace and with the limitations set out in the appropriate technical-operational document adopted by the Aeronautica Militare, in the case of particular operational needs (military and non-military) are there any exceptions to Law no.178 of 14.07.2004, OJ No 20.07.2004?
Law no.178 of 14.07.2004 was repealed by the Code of the military system issued by Legislative Decree of the President of the Republic no. 66 of 15 March 2010.
The art. 247 (Authorization and limits to the use of the RPA supplied to the Armed Forces) of the Decree prescribes that the use of RPA takes place within certain airspace and with the limitations established by the technical documentation operating between the Aeronautica Militare and the Ente Nazionale Aviazione Civile (ENAC or National Civil Aviation Authority): the document in question has reached the third version, DTO-003 of July 2013.
The same article of law adds that, while the determination of airspace remains, in the course of operations on national territory or abroad related to crisis situations or armed conflict, the use of RPA is not subject to these limitations.
- In the context of the new training procedures of the Armed Force, is provision made for the training of personnel for the purpose of operating the RPA, which are trained ad hoc and not from piloted aircraft?
The art. 248 of the Presidential Decree 66/90, paragraph 1, states that "The conduct of RPA weighing less than 20 kg (omissis) is entrusted to military personnel in possession of a suitable qualification ...." ; Over the years, the AM has produced training procedures in compliance with international/NATO standards, which are being refined as a result of the consolidation of experience.
For the remaining systems, national legislation requires a pilot to allow safe use in national airspace - often congested. The pilot therefore maintains his qualifications on both RPA and adjacent pilot aircraft, with detailed solutions that are evolving through sector studies on the training process of the AM crew.
- Still on the subject of training, assuming that the training courses are still in progress, what is the educational process currently planned for pilot, sensor operator, mission monitor, image analyst and avionics technician?
Normally the Pilots follow an instructional process with a first phase at the US base in Holloman and a second, which completes the readiness to combat, carried out on the return to Italy with instructors of the 28° Gruppo on the aircraft supplied.
Generally, the staff assigned to the tasks of sensor operator attend a preliminary module of three weeks at our Center of Excellence that introduces it to the environment PRA, and then is sent to the United States to follow a process similar to that of pilots.
The Analysts of Data and Images (ADI) follow a battery of several courses in the field of remote sensing held by the School interforce Aerocooperazione, at the airport of Guidonia; some analysts, in the second phase, are also qualified for the analysis of radar images.
The avionics technicians are instead trained through courses of qualification and specialization carried out in national field and others, held ad hoc near the 32° Stormo, thanks to which they are qualified to operate on the systems of the Armed Force; the training is completed with an adequate on-job training (OJT), or practical support with experienced technicians, to the 28° Gruppo. It is possible, if there are upgrades of the system, that some technicians are sent to the manufacturer for its indoctrination and updating.
For the figure of the Mission Monitor it is finally provided that, after the achievement of the Intelligence qualification, they attend a familiarization course on the Weapon System and carry out an adequate period of OJT on the airport of Amendola; participation in operational missions integrates and completes combat readiness.
- Given that there are currently no simulators enabling the conduct of RPA, what are the Armed Force’s guidelines for the near future?
In the next semester, the RPA Excellence Center will receive an advanced M&S platform consisting of generic systems of mini, tactical and strategic classes, with which it will also be possible to carry out basic training events in favor of all Armed Forces.
In addition, studies have been undertaken for the acquisition of specific systems for the Predator and Strix lines.
- Is it conceivable that theoretical and practical courses will be held exclusively at the RPA Centre of Excellence in the near future?
The RPA Centre of Excellence in accordance with the inter-strength directives, is responsible for basic theoretical training for systems below 20 kg and collaborates at various levels to indoctrination of all military personnel in the RPA sector; where the needs of cross-party trainers exceed the production capacity of the Centre, it will be possible to reach equal training solutions, which will have to be properly certified.
- Is staff interchangeable in the conduct of different types of RPA?
As with all aircraft, for RPA systems it is necessary to obtain specific machine ratings through theoretical and practical courses. For systems below 20 kg, after having obtained the initial qualification on a Mini/Micro RPA system, operators can pass on another machine by attending the specific skill course.
For systems above 20 kg, pilots are already holders of a Brevetto Militare obtained at flight schools and therefore can pass on other aircraft/ systems by attending the specific skill course.
The Predator program comes from the need to have an effective and modern component of remote piloted aircraft UAV, these particular aircraft are able to ensure for long periods of time, surveillance and reconnaissance of large areas or specific locations, taking advantage of the fact that the sensors are piloted and managed through a control station located on the ground and through dedicated links.
The Aeronautica Militare started in the 2001 the program Predator A, in order to acquire a first experience in the field, in particular in the conduct of surveillance and long-range reconnaissance missions.
The program foresaw the acquisition of six RQ 1B and two control stations on the ground, on the occasion of the delivery of the first examples, in December of 2005, was reconstituted the 28° Gruppo Velivoli Teleguidati "Le Streghe", placing it in Amendola under the control of the 32° Stormo, the 28° Gruppo already belonging to the 3° Stormo of Villafranca had been placed in the "Framework" position in 1997.
A remote-controlled system consists of four components: the aircraft, sensors or payload, the ground station for guidance and attitude control, and the telecommunications segment for data exchange. Predator A is an 8.2-meter-long, 1.82-meter-high, wing-width 14.8-meter-wide aircraft that can carry nearly 300 kg of fuel that allows it to remain in flight for about 20 hours at 135-160 km/h and a maximum altitude of 8,000 meters. The aircraft is equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors that allow missions in all light conditions, the shooting system is ensured by an MTS-A EO/IR camera, and the Predator is equipped with a Lynx SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) system able to recognize static or moving targets on the ground, a SIGINT/ESM system (Signal Intelligence - Electronic Support Measures) able to collect information through the analysis of signals, and finally a GPS positioning system (Global Positioning System) and INS (Inertial Navigation System). Aircraft and sensors are operated by the ground control station GCS (Ground Control Station) which consists of a group of subsystems and workstations used for planning and conducting the mission, the station is simply a shelter that can be transported by truck, equipped with two synthetic opening radars plus a satellite receiver, three consolles for mission management, one for the pilot, one for the sensor operator and a multifunction, the control is via LOS (Line of-sight) visual line with data-link in band C, while for satellite control this is done in band Ku.
The telecommunications segment ensures real-time aircraft guidance from the ground station to the aircraft, and in the opposite direction, the flow of surveillance and reconnaissance videos.
In 2004 at the end of the delivery of the first system and the qualification of the personnel, the General Staff decided to send the Iraqi operating theater Predator A, with the aim of supporting and providing protection to our forces deployed in the Middle Eastern country, mission that ended in 2006.
While the Predator, which has been engaged in Afghanistan since June 2007, in the framework of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission, is continuing its activities in the same way as the previous Iraqi theatre, conducting aerial reconnaissance in particular areas where, due to the harsh conformity of the territory, communications are inadequate and difficult, adverse weather conditions and a terrorist threat still strong, The presence of UAV is particularly important for troops deployed on the ground. The use of Predator A in Iraq and Afghanistan has highlighted its high degree of effectiveness by virtue of the possibility of staying for long periods in the vicinity of the areas under monitoring, not having to get too close to the monitored areas, provide real-time high-definition video stream to troops on the ground. These remarkable performances of the aircraft were also used for surveillance at the Italian-Russian intergovernmental summit held in Bari in 2007.
In May 2011, the Predator Task Group "Atore", part of the Joint Air Task Force (JATF), which in turn is dependent on the Regional Command of Herat, have exceeded the 6,000 hours of flight, completed in over 750 missions, and carried out since 2007 to date, all in favor of the Italian contingent and the allied ISAF forces.
With the passage of time the system has been updated, in order to improve the performances and to eliminate already some characteristics by now obsolete, in 2009 it has proceeded to carry out of the upgrades classified as A-Plus, this variant was first used at the G8 Summit in L'Aquila and now also in Afghanistan.
The flattering results achieved have led to consider the increase in operational capabilities, already largely achieved by Predator A, with the acquisition of an aircraft with superior overall capacity.
In today’s operational scenario converge on the Military Instrument interforces vital security and defence needs to be met through the functions of prevention, advanced defense and surveillance of land/sea/air spaces of national interest (Homeland Defence); projection of operational capabilities to achieve stability and security even in areas outside national borders (Expeditionary). In this context, the role of the remote piloted aircraft-based air surveillance and reconnaissance component is an enabling factor in that it contributes decisively to improving knowledge of activities and movements along communication routes or in areas of interest.
Therefore, to ensure these objectives, the Ministry of Defense followed up the Predator program by providing for the acquisition of six new UAVs in the Predator B version (designated MQ-9 Reaper by the USAF and the Royal Air Force) with its sensors capable of operating in all conditions of light and weather, which will ensure even higher performance than the A-Plus, greater availability of ground control stations, further satellite communication equipment as well as to maintain at potential level, the simultaneous use of these arrangements in two different missions outside the area and an operational/training component on national territory.
Predator B characterized by another degree of technological development, will be able to perform a wide range of missions with considerable flexibility of use, considerable versatility, high persistence and proven operational effectiveness. In particular, the system will be able to support the fight against improvised explosive devices that represent the most insidious and common threat in today’s operating theatres. A further element concerns the ability of these arrangements to ensure the carrying out of missions even in the presence of chemical and radiological biological nuclear contamination for which the risk of human loss is higher.
The aircraft already in operation have reached (IOC Initial Operational Capabilty) that is the initial operational capability and can be used without difficulty in missions, such as the current one on Libya, integrating NATO capacity in the ISR sector (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance).
The B variant of the Predator in addition to the significant improvements made to sensors, radar and long-range electro-optical sensor Raytheon MTS-B, can also bring a significant armament that, using the six wing attacks, can be composed of: smart bombs GBU-12 Paveway or GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or 14 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The size of the MQ-9 is substantially higher than the RQ-1, in fact we have a wingspan of 20 meters, a length of 12 meters and a maximum weight of 4,760 kilograms, the maximum tangent attainable is 15,000 meters, The speed is much higher than the Predator A, well 400 kilometers per hour, with the 1,300 kilograms of fuel can fly for 15 hours at an average altitude, instead at high altitude the range is extended from 24 to 40 hours of flight.
"Source Claudio Toselli"
Interview with Major Pilot AF
- Commander, what’s your background?
I come from the course Sparviero IV, I have attended the schools of flight USA of Sheppard and the OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) near the 101° Gruppo Volo.
At the end of the conversion course I was assigned to Istrana - 51° Stormo, 103° Gruppo Volo, where I carried out the activity of flight on AMX until 2009, when I was transferred to Amendola as an instructor. Since July 2012 I am the Commander of the OCU.
- In view of the AMX line-out, what is the current status of the Gruppo’s activities?
There are no substantial changes in the training process that is continually updated with the latest lessons learned.
- What are the immediate and future prospects of the Unit?
The 32° Stormo is undergoing a radical transformation to be ready to receive the first F 35 (JSF) aircraft.
- After the period of full operation in which the 101° could count on 18 two-seaters and 5-6 single-seaters that allowed him to preserve the secondary role "strike", what is the current consistency of the Unit?
The available aircraft are no longer assigned to the Gruppo Volo, but are charged to the Gruppo Efficienza Aeromobili.
Therefore, the GEA, through a careful and detailed monthly planning, coordinates the requests for resources throughout the year in relation to the training and operational needs and based on the number of pilots available.
- Do the AMX-T ACOL use the Reccelite pod?
Only some single-seater aircraft with modifications necessary for the management of the pod, including the four Aeronautica Militare AMX fighters that during the six years or so of activity in Afghanistan have carried out multiple operational missions, including close air support and tactical reconnaissance, demonstrating great versatility and reliability in both day and night missions.
The technology is an essential element in the aircraft of the Aeronautica Militare; in Afghanistan, for example, has allowed us to reach with very high precision over 7,500 targets assigned as part of the missions of attack and reconnaissance, without any collateral damage.
- The Gruppo deals with operational standardization and training on what exactly is this about?
Operational standardization is the concept that all pilots must know and operate at procedural level in the same way.
It is the result of a continuous exchange between the units that use the AMX and the OCU, which sometimes work together, but always in synergy to coordinate and centralize any updates or improvements of procedures that are formalized only through the work of formalization by the OCU.
This allows us to have uniqueness of procedures but communion in improvements.
Similarly, the training is adjusted according to the experience of the instructors but especially according to the requests of the units.
Both topics are dealt with in standardization meetings and in syllabus conference, where the individual training and operations details are defined.
The work carried out by the AMX in the Afghan theater, for example, is proof of the quality of the AM’s strategic choices regarding weapon systems, and
the training of their own crews.
- How many courses have been run since the year 101°?
More than thirty complete operational conversion courses and several recurrence of personnel previously employed on AMX.
- On 31 May 2008, the 15,000 flight hours were celebrated, what is the current milestone?
The AMX line exceeded 200,000, including more than 9,000 in ISAF with the Task Group Black Cats in over 3,500 missions performed; goal never equaled by an Italian combat aircraft in operations outside the national borders since the end of World War II.
- Are instructors trained in the Unit?
The instructors are carefully chosen from the most experienced and capable pilots of the line.
The rose of names is coordinated with the Commanders of the various Gruppi Volo, which agree to deprive themselves of valuable resources and then receive later young pilots prepared and reliable.
- How many are there and what is their background?
Generally they are always the pilots of the line with an adequate experience
(preferably also real operational) with a minimum qualification of Capo Coppia (Section Leader) and considerable flying experience.
- Do the attendees still come from the pre-operational course at the 212° Gruppo of Galatina on MB 339CD?
- On average, how many are there?
It depends a lot on pre-operational courses.
- Are there still foreign pilots in exchange?
Yes. They attend the course in Amendola, but generally they are then transferred to Gruppi Volo of Istrana for proximity to the base of Aviano.
- What roles do they play?
Exactly analogous to that of our pilots, obviously they integrate the procedures with what carried out on their machine of origin, for example the A 10.
- How theoretical and practical lessons on the ground and the flying hours?
The practical theoretical lessons constitute the doctrinal basis that each pilot is well-known.
The 101° Gruppo OCU, based on lessons learned and lessons identified emerged in the operations in which participated in the AMX aircraft in recent years, has the task of updating all briefings and lessons to be conducted to pilots of the line.
Once the theoretical part is learned, what is studied is put into practice in training missions.
- What are the steps to go through?
There are different: at the 101° Gruppo OCU, after passing a examination, follows the LCR (Limited Combat Readiness).
At the Gruppo Volo, the FCR (Full Combat Readiness) is achieved.
With this qualification the pilot is ready to be employed in any operation or conflict.
The subsequent qualifications of Capo Coppia, Capo Formazione (Formation Leader) and Instructor are obtained only upon the achievement of certain levels of experience and following specific dedicated training.
- What are the flight hours to the simulator, those with instructor, those solo and those necessary to reach the LCR?
All hours at the 101° Gruppo OCU are performed under the supervision of at least one instructor.
During solo hours, supervision is carried out by an instructor on another aircraft.
- Is training also carried out abroad?
Yeah, based on the High Command drill schedule.
- If so, does the Commission plan to take part in NATO exercises and not?
Yes, the most important in recent years were the Green and Red Flag made at the Nellis AFB in Nevada.