With Amendola Air Base (Italy) at the centre of the exercise, Falcon Strike 21 (FS21) was one of the most important ones this year as most of the fifth generation jet fighter aircraft users in the Mediterranean region gathered together at this Italian air base.
From 7 until 15 June 2021, the air forces of Italy, US, UK and Israel gathered at Amendola with one major goal; to reach the highest level of interoperability of partners and allies operating the advanced F-35 Lightning II and training together by merging fourth and fifth generation fighters to maintain superiority and dominance in the most difficult areas of conflict.
This exercise is similar to the trilateral exercise Atlantic Trident 21 in that it was divided into two teams. The blue team led by Lightning IIs and F-16 Fighting Falcons exercised offensive Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) and Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (DEAD) missions against the red team, consisting of various Aeronautica Militare (AM, Italian Air Force) fighters as the F-2000 Typhoon, the A-200 Tornado and the T-346A Master. Normally, the agressor role is only taken up by the fighter trainers from the 61° Stormo Carlo Negri based at Lecce/Galatina.
FS21, under the command and control of the Aerospace Operations Command of Poggio Renatico (Ferrara), aimed to reproduce an operational scenario in which complex aerial operations were carried out with the Lightning IIs. The scenarios created included various types of missions - protection of high-value aircraft assets, Close Air Support (CAS) operations, Air Interdiction with strategic and tactical management, support for ground special forces, targeting operations - in a complex, highly changeable environment with multi surface-to-air missile threats, dynamic targeting and escorted attack convoys.
All flying activities were carried out within the airspace dedicated to training, within which EW (Electronic Warfare) and SBAD (Surface Based Air Defence) activities were carried out. The SIRIUS command and control/radar system of the 2nd Wing at Rivolto (Udine) and a SAMP-T component of the Italian Army will also operate.
FS21 participating units:
32° Stormo Armando Boetto (Amendola) with F-35A Lightning II, F-35B Lightning II and RQ-1B Predator
6° Stormo Alfredo Fusco (Ghedi) with A-200A Tornado IDS
14° Stormo Sergio Sartoff (Pratica di Mare) with KC-767A and E-550A
36° Stormo Riccardo Helmut Seidl (Gioia del Colle) with F-2000A Typhoon
37° Stormo Cesare Toschi (Trapani/Birgi) with F-2000A Typhoon
51° Stormo Ferruccio Serafini (Istrana) with A-11A AMX and F-2000A Typhoon
61° Stormo Carlo Negri (Lecce/Galatina) with T-346A Master
31st FW/555th FS (Aviano) with F-16CM/DM Fighting Falcon
388th FW (Hill AFB, UT) with F-35A Lightning II
VMFA-211 The Wake Island Avengers ('CF') with F-35B Lightning II
116sq The Southern Lions Squadron (Nevatim) with F-35I Adir
140sq The Golden Eagle Squadron (Nevatim) with F-35I Adir
120sq The Desert Giants Squadron (Nevatim) with KC-707 Re'em
122sq The Nachshon Squadron (Nevatim) with G550 Nachshon Eitam
617sq Dambusters (RAF Marham) with the F-35B Lightning II