Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons proved their swing-role capability this winter during the NATO Exercise Trident Juncture in Norway.
Exercise Trident Juncture is centered on the scenario of protecting Norway from a border invasion by providing reinforcements by air and by amphibious landing. The exercise took place mainly in central and eastern parts of Norway, and air and sea areas in Norway, Sweden and Finland. It was one of the biggest NATO exercises held in the last ten years.
It was led by Admiral James Foggo III, Commander of NATO Joint Force Command Naples, with Allied Air Command providing an Air Component Command Exercise Control Headquarters at Ramstein.
During the exercise Bodø Air Base hosted most of the flying Air Force assets, with seven NATO nations — France, Greece, Canada, Italy, Spain, Turkey, along with NATO partner nation Sweden — contributing aircraft.
The largest detachment based at Bodø was sent by the Italian Air Force who contributed 4 Eurofighters (4th - 36th - 37th Wing), 6 Tornados (6th Wing), a KC-767 tanker and a G-550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft (14th Wing).
The Italian Eurofighter jets were able to deliver close to 100% reliability during the planned missions, despite operating in cold and wet weather. In total, Eurofighter carried out about 70 sorties during the exercise.
Trident Juncture is a huge undertaking, featuring 50,000 participants from 31 nations, including 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 65 vessels. Consequently, it’s a hugely complex and challenging one for those taking part.
Typhoon pilot Colonel Daniele Porelli, ITAF Detachment Commander, said: "Trident Juncture is a very demanding mission, but it’s also a very valuable one because we have an opportunity to take part in training in a way that would be unthinkable in Italy.
“The exercise comprises various types of set-ups and missions, including Composite Air Operations (COMAO) in which more than 50-60 aircraft fly. We’ve carried out Close Air Support missions supporting ground troops and Tactical Air Support of Maritime Operations over the sea.”
Air units from each of the participating nations flew both Blue Air and Red Air missions so that each had a chance to train in both roles.
Each of the tasks were set by NATO Air Command in Ramstein. The ground and flight crews arrived in Bodø the day before each mission to make their plans. Explained Col. Porelli: “The mission commander took part in video-conferences with other bases involved in the mission before assigning us with our different roles at our daily briefings.
“Of course, some days orders were modified during the course of the actual mission. In one instance, for example, the initial task was Air to Ground but that switched to an Air to Air role, which we were able to do thanks to Eurofighter’s Swing-Role capability.In fact, because of this ability, the Eurofighter's tasks were split between Red Air, Air to Ground and Air Defence in almost equal proportions.
"The aircraft allows pilots to carry out multiple tasks at the same time or seamlessly switch between different tasks in the same mission — it’s the real definition of a Swing Role platform, in this respect, Eurofighter has little competition,” said Col. Porelli.