HomeNewsAviationAfter 35 years of service the Italian AF retires the AMX

After 35 years of service the Italian AF retires the AMX

- The ceremony at Istrana base, where the first example was assigned in 1989, in the presence of the highest authorities of the Armed Forces. It was the Air Force's aero-tactical aircraft most used in operations outside national borders.

The ceremony with which the Italian Air Force bid farewell to the AMX fighter , which is “retiring” after 35 years of intense activity, took place today at the military airport of Istrana – home of the 51st Fighter Wing operational both in Italy and abroad.

The ceremony, presided over by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Air Force General Luca Goretti, was attended by the leaders of the Armed Forces and numerous authorities, including the Hon. Minister of Justice. Carlo Nordio, the President of the Province of Treviso Stefano Marcon, the Prefect of Treviso Angelo Sidoti and the Mayor of Treviso Maria Grazia Gasperini; The event was also attended by a large representation of personnel who, in various capacities, over the years, had the opportunity to operate on the AMX, one of the aircraft that has characterized the recent history of the Air Force and the jet aero-tactical aircraft mostly used by the Armed Forces in missions outside national borders.

Born from the collaboration between the Italian and Brazilian aeronautical industries, the first AMX was assigned to the Air Force in 1989, to the 103rd Flight Group of the 51st Wing of Istrana, and then subsequently entered the line also to the 2nd Wing of Rivolto, to the 3rd Wing of Villafranca and the 32nd Wing of Amendola, to progressively replace the G.91Rs and F-104s.

In 35 years of service, with over 240 thousand flight hours of which 18,500 in real operations, the AMX has crossed the skies of 33 nations, operating in eight different operational areas and in numerous international exercises, from the freezing climates of Norway and Canada to the sand of Kuwait. Due to its characteristics as a light and extremely versatile fighter – also thanks to the various updates that over the years have implemented its operational capabilities in terms of avionics equipment, sensors, precision armament and autonomy – the AMX was an asset capable to carry out a wide range of missions at the service of the country and NATO, from those of interdiction and ground attack, to those of escort and support for contingents on the ground, to those of reconnaissance in the context of ISR (Intelligence , Surveillance and Recognition).

In the mid-90s the aircraft, also known by the nickname “Ghibli“, debuted in real operations in the skies of the former Yugoslavia, then again in 1999 in Kosovo; from 2009 to 2014 he participated in the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan, one of the operational theaters where he was most employed, then in Libya in 2011 and finally in Iraq and Kuwait, from 2016 to 2019, where he completed his last commitment abroad in the anti-Daesh Operation “Inherent Resolve”, still ongoing. The contribution in the national field is also important, where it was used among other things in precious photographic reconnaissance missions as part of the support provided by the Defense to populations affected by serious disasters, such as for example the earthquakes in Emilia Romagna and Central Italy, for the flood in Sardinia, or also to support the action plan to combat the fires in the Land of Fires in Campania.

Today we say goodbye to an aircraft that made the history of the Air Force, for us, an airplane is not a simple piece of iron, it is part of the family. Behind this plane there is a submerged world of joys and sorrows, of emotions, of people who managed it, maintained it, took it into flight – and our thoughts go to those of them who are no longer with us – enabling us to achieve extraordinary results and maintain extraordinary operating standards. Today with a bit of melancholy we turn a page while we keep others open. The future is already here, with the Eurofighter and F-35 lines which are now the backbone of the aero-tactical component of the Armed Forces, with the sixth generation aircraft that we are already concretely thinking about and with new challenges and new domains, such as space, which are increasingly becoming part of our daily lives and our operating environment

Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Air Squadron General Luca Goretti

The AMX is one of the aircraft that accompanied the transformation of the Air Force, a process which since 2020 has seen, among other things, the Istrana base return to being one of the national air defense bases and where personnel have been able to transfer to gradually all the know-how and experience gained over the years on the Eurofighter line.

Four aircraft still operational – two single-seaters and two two-seaters – will conclude their activity in the coming weeks by landing at Piacenza airport, the location identified for the future construction of the Flying Museum of the Air Force, to allow all enthusiasts of the aeronautical world and historians of the sector to admire the AMX in the future and remember its service for the country.

The event began with the take-off of a formation of AMXs which, after a training mission, reunited in flight with a Tornado, a Eurofighter and an F-35, ideally bringing together all the generations of aero-tactical aircraft currently in line in the Armed Forces.

The event was also sealed by the presence of the National Acrobatic Team, present on the Treviso base for one of the last training sessions away from the permanent headquarters in Rivolto, in Friuli, before the start of the 2024 aerobatic season. An important year, which will see the Frecce Tricolori protagonists not only in Italy, but also with a tour in North America, then they will return to perform more than 30 years after the last time.

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