Farnborough 2018: International military pilot training school to launch in Italy


Leonardo and the Italian Air Force are to launch a training school for military pilots.

The International Flight Training School (IFTS) will open in 2021 at the 61st Wing Galatina Air Base in Southern Italy. It will be able to train up to 80 pilots per year, so they can fly fourth-generation jets such as the F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon and eventually fifth generation fighter jets.

The IFTS, which is being set up as a public-private partnership, will have 45 instructors and 22 M-346 trainer aircraft. Four new M-346s and training systems made by Leonardo will be supplied in 2019 and will be owned and run by the PPP.

The Galatina Air Base is equipped with live-virtual-constructive (LVC) training technologies, including CAE-built training simulators. The LVC technology enables trainees on the ground to interact with pilots in the air, flying real aircraft, during the same training missions.

Speaking at a signing ceremony at the Farnborough Airshow, Lt. Gen. Enzo Vecciarelli, the Italian Air Force’s chief of staff, said, “The integrated flight training system has two segments: flight and the ground training suite. The ability to realize a visual environment that resembles a real live operational environment enables better training, so pilots can fly fourth and fifth generation jets straight out of the school.

“We are in a very peculiar time. Civilian airlines need to double the number of pilots in the next 10 years. I believe they will come from Air Forces. There will be a big demand for pilots in our allied countries all over the world.”

The 61st Wing has already trained pilots from Austria, Poland, Greece and the USA and is looking to train pilots from more regions, such as the Gulf countries and Africa.

Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo, said, “We have an excellent relationship with the Air Force. Leonardo has to move from being a platform supplier to being a service provider as well. We aim to become the international flight training school for all of the fifth-generation air force worldwide.”

July 18, 2018


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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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