Tactical Leadership Program - AMENDOLA 
This year the fourth edition of the TLP (Tactical Leadership Program) has been hosted by Aeronautica Militare Italiana at the Amendola Air Force Base, home to the 32nd Stormo equipped with F 35A aircraft and remote piloting aircraft (MQ-1C and MQ-9A). Over  900 soldiers of different nationalities and 50 airplanes were trained from November 20th until December 14th in the 4th Flying Course of the Tactical Leadership Program for a total of joint training four weeks. 
 
Why TLP use this Italian military airbase? 
Because Amendola airport is the first European operational airbase for F 35, this base is completely capable to hosting the fifth generation resources for logistic / air deployment, exercises and real operations. Therefore it was offered the possibility to organize the fourth TLP 2018 to nations partner on Italian territory. 
This edition is able (first opportunity in Europe) to do a training activities involving the F-35, promoting interoperability between fourth and fifth generation activities during complex and advanced missions. 
In this Flying Course 4th and 5^ Generation Aircraft participate simultaneously and make an unique opportunity not only to promote the standardization of tactics, techniques and procedures, but above all to exercise interoperability between different systems, even non-homogeneous,  the ability of a system to cooperate, exchange or re-use information or services produced by others. 
The F 35 aircraft with its high capacity, which makes an incredible "multiplier" of forces, is an example how the 5th Generation technologies succeed in conferring a renewed topicality to the other armed forces systems. 
Thanks to this, all the signatories of the TLP have shown great interest in participating in this edition. 
 
Short description about TLP 
The TLP (Tactical Leadership Program), also known as the NATO’s Pilot School, is an international military organization formed by ten member countries such as: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, the rest of NATO countries and other countries invited outside of NATO. 
The TLP is a multinational advanced training center for pilots and crews with the aim to improving the operability and effectiveness of the Allied Air Forces. In addition TLP organized a training courses to flight (both day and night) and theoretical courses for military personnel from other armed forces (in addition to aeronautics) both from NATO and non-NATO countries. 
No one could imagine how military aviation would change in Europe in the following decades when the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) started multinational flight operations in 1979 in Jever ( Germany ); the TLP program always reflects political and military changes, from "Cold War" scenarios to "hot" conflicts within an increasingly globalized world.  
The TLP initially was mainly formed by the Second and Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force members of Central and Western Europe, but the subsequent withdrawal of the Canadian forces from Germany in 1993 led slowly to a growing participation of the Southern NATO Europe air forces. 
The TLP was transferred from Jever to a more central position such as Florennes, in Belgium, in 1989 and following the continuing decline of air forces in Europe the TLP at the Belgian air base became the only multinational air operation large-scale that took place regularly on a single air base in Europe. 
In the following years the TLP has moved again, this time to Spain, from July 2009, at the Albacete-Los Llanos air base. Over the years, the focus of the exercise has changed and night exercises became very important. 
The Night exercises were not possible in Florennes due to night restrictions and airspace restrictions, so the night flight courses were deployed in other airports as unfortunately it was the only one chance to practice exercise in the dark. At Albacete-Los Llanos, night flights instead are possible during each exercise, along with improved weather conditions throughout the year. 
The TLP in Albacete (SPA) organize in this moment 4 Flying courses every year with the intent to qualify the crews of air target lines as Mission Commander in the context of complex Combined Air Operations (COMAO) involving the interaction of air, naval and terrestrials in realistic scenarios due to the modern international operational contexts which the FF.AA operate. 
 
Media day - friday 30 November 2018 
Punctual as scheduled, the meeting (for a small group of journalists and photographers) was fixed in front of the access to the air base at 9 o'clock am. Later we were all transferred to the Wing’s briefing room for the conference press, started with a brief course on airport security and the measures to be taken within it. 
At 10 o'clock, with the arrival of Capo di Stato Maggiore on board of a UH 139A of the 31st STORMO, the Lieutenant General of Air Squadron Alberto Rosso, and after the honors and greetings to the Chief of SMA by moderator Col. Merola, the word passed to the Commander of the 32nd STORMO, Col. Davide Marzinotto who presented in detail the air base of Amendola with a particular focus on the F 35 aircraft. 
At 10.50, Col. Andres Maldonado spoke, describing briefly the functionalities of the TLP and the structures that operate in the course of this edition. During FC 2018-4 the number of participating Aircrew is formed by 28 crews who alternate during the four weeks between Blue Assets (28 crews) and Red Assets (12 crews) and 8 Support Assets with tasks of AEW, EW, SLOMO, SURPIC, HVAA and CSAR. In four weeks (20 days), 15 days operation with real flight operations, while another five days for planning and feed-back. 
At 11.30 at the end of the press conference we were transferred to the area of ??the 13th Gruppo where for the occasion was prepared  a static exhibition of some of the aircraft witch took part in the TLP with the possibility of interviews  some testimonials. There were present an F 35A (32-07), a G 550CAEW, a T-346, an F 2000 Typhoon, a MQ9-A for the Aeronautica Militare, an AV 8B for Marina Militare, a Belgian F 16 a Tornado and an EF 2000 of Luftwaffe, a Learjet 36A and an USAF F15 of LN. 
At 12 o'clock there was a "Media Opportunity" with the CSM of the Aeronautica Militare always in the area of the 13rd Gruppo Volo. During this event the CSM declared F 35 able to Initial Operational Capability (IOC), the first European Air Force to reach this milestone. 
"Today is an important day for the Aeronautica Militare, with the formal Initial Operational Capability ( IOC ) of our F 35 and we are able to express (the first in Europe) a real operational capacity with a fifth generation machine, which means be ready to encounter the missions required by the national defense system with a system consisting of several aircraft, ready and trained crews to use them, supported by maintenance personnel and logistically sustainable over time. We must be proud of this finishing line, thanks to the work who preceded us and who every day with commitment, heart and passion has allowed us to achieve incredible results. A very important day also for the meaning of this TLP Course, which represents the first concrete integration between fourth and fifth generation weapon systems and an important opportunity to grow and develop together with other friendly nations the essential skills that aerospace power must be able to express in the world. The F35 has a very high flexibility capability and it is able to receive and redistribute an extraordinary flow of information and it is the best in the world and we are ready today (as AM)" 
 
Participants at the TLP 
Several plane of Aeronautica Militare Italiana took part in the 4th Flying Course: F 35, the great news of this session, Eurofighter, T 346A, G 550CAEW, KC 767A, P 72A, HH 101A and HH 212 and remote piloted systems (MQ-1C and MQ-9A), in addition the IT-DARS mobile command and control system, the SIRIUS Surface Based Air Defense system (SBAD) and the specialized Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC). All the participating airplanes are deployed at the Amendola air base, with the exception of the Tanker KC 767A, which operates directly from Pratica di Mare airport, and the HH 212, deployed instead at Gioia del Colle Airbase. The Trapani airport is instead used as a base for the NATO E 3A Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACS). In addition two Marina Militare AV 8B  took part to exercitation. More than 600 soldiers of different nationalities have been involved and different aircraft assets, including F 15C and KC 135 americans, EF 2000, Tornado ECR and Jamkite Germans, F 16 belgians and F 16 dutch and NATO’S AWACS. 
A short description about the AM aircraft deployments used during the TLP: 
-      nr. 2 F 35 (blue); 
-      nr. 2 EF 2000 (blue a/g); 
-      nr. 2 F 2000 (blue a/a); 
-      nr. 2 F 2000 (red a/a); 
-      nr. 2 T 346A (red a/a); 
-      nr. 1 G 550CAEW; 
-      nr. 1 KC 767A; 
-      nr. 1 P 72A 
-      nr. 2 HH 101A (specific mission); 
-      nr. 1 HH 212 (specific mission); 
-      nr. 1 RPAS (MQ-1C or MQ-9A, subject to availability); 
-      nr. 1 SIRIUS system; 
-      nr. 1 Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) team; 
 
Short mention about  Amendola Air Base 
Amendola Airport (ICAO: LIBA) - home of the 32nd Stormo - is located in the north of Puglia, 15 km northeast from the city of Foggia, in the village of Amendola between San Giovanni Rotondo and Manfredonia village from which the airport is 25 km far. The structure, named in memory of the Lieutenant pilot Luigi Rovelli, a gold medal with military value, is equipped with a 2.720m long asphalt runway. Amendola is the largest military airport in Italy with its surface of 1.050 hectares. 
 
The following groups operate into the 32nd Stormo: 
13rd Gruppo Volo - operates with the 5^ generation F 35 JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) aircraft. 
28th APR Gruppo Volo - equipped with MQ9-A (Predator "B") and MQ1-C (Predator "A +") aircraft 
632^ Squadriglia Collegamenti - equipped with MB 339A or CD training aircraft 
 
32nd STORMO 
Mission of the 32nd STORMO: 
• Set up efficient and effective operational tools, always able to perform the tasks assigned in Italy and beyond national borders, in the best possible framework of security and standardization. 
• Train exemplary professionals by promoting Leadership at every level to serve the Fatherland with determination, excellence and dedication. 
• Acquire and maintain the operational capabilities of the F-35 weapon system, while grafting 5th generation capabilities into the training and operational context of Defense. 
• Maintaining and enhancing the ISTAR operational capacity of remotely piloted aircraft, both nationally and in coalitions. 
• Develop and promote the dual capabilities of the structures assigned to always be at the service of the community. 
The 32nd Stormo was constituted on 1st December 1936 on Cagliari Elmas Airport. On 3 April of the same year, King Vittorio Emanuele III handed over the Flag of War to the Lieutenant Colonnel Vincenzo Napoli, first Commander of the Stormo. In 1937 the trimotore Savoia Marchetti S.M.81"Pipistrello" aircraft was assigned to the stormo and subsequently in 1939 there was a transition to the new trimotore aircraft called Savoia Marchetti S.79 "Sparrowhawk". For the II World War, on June 3 1940, the 32nd Stormo will transfer to Decimomannu (CA), being immediately engaged in war operations and earn the silver medal for Military Valor. Among the most important operations there were the activities carried out against Gibraltar where, on 8 May 1941, in a bitter air combat Captain Armando Boetto fell and died and took in memory a Valor  Gold Medal. This name is dedicated  today to the Stormo. At the end of this first period, the Department assumed the name of 32nd Stormo Aerosiluranti and in October 1941 received the first Savoia Marchetti S.84 aircraft. In May 1942 the Stormo was transferred to Gioia del Colle (BA) airbase and subsequently  to Lecce, the last stage before the dissolution occurred on January 27, 1943. 
Twenty-four years later, on September 10, 1967, the 32nd Stormo was reconstituted on the Brindisi airport with the role of Bombardier and Reconnaissance Hunting (CBR), with the 13rd Gruppo under its control. The Fiat G.91R aircraft was assigned to the Department replaced later by the G.91Y. On July 1, 1993, the 32nd Stormo was dislocated on the Amendola air base with the 13rd CBR Gruppo, the 201st OCU Group (Operational Conversion Unit) and the 204th Gruppo on the G.91T aircraft. From 31st July 1995 the 101st OCU Group was assigned to the 32nd Stormo to support the already present 13th Gruppo. At the same time, the 201st OCU Group was placed in a hold position. From the 15th of September the 204th Gruppo was also put in hold position, while on September 30th of the same year the glorious G.91T aircraft was radiated, which had continuously guaranteed the advanced tactical training of entire generations of Air Force pilots starting since 1963. 
From the same date the Stormo operated with AMX and AMX-T (two-seater) aircraft. From December 9, 1997, the 32nd Stormo took part in the "Deliberate Guard" operation for peacekeeping in Bosnia and in the spring of 1999 it was established on the basis of Amendola the "Sezione Operativa AMX" composed of AMX aircraft from different Departments of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana to cope with the Kosovo crisis, in the context of Operation Allied Force. In the following years the AMX of the 32nd Stormo was also used to ensure the aerial surveillance over Roman area on the occasion of numerous major events. In December 2013 the 13th Gruppo Volo, after a 96-year of history, was placed in a hold position and, in July 2014 the 101st Gruppo Volo was transferred to the 51st Stormo of Istrana (TV). 
On March 1, 2002 a Group was established at the Wing with remote piloted aircraft (APR) "Predator A". From 1 February 2005 the unit will take the insignia of the 28th Gruppo "Le Streghe", reconstituted after the dissolution of the 3rd Stormo of Villafranca (VR). Since 2005, and in subsequent years, the 28th Gruppo has operated continuously and successfully in all the main operations outside the national borders to which the Air Force took part, in particular: "Ancient Babylon" in Iraq, "Unified Protector "in Libya, NATO" Joint Enterprise "in Kosovo. As part of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission in Afghanistan, the 32nd Stormo moved two different operative cells: in 2007 with the Predator structure (TG "Astore") and in 2009 with AMX (TG "Black Cats" aircraft) ). The Stormo has seen, over the years, grow its fleet APR, with the update to the version "Predator A +" and the acquisition in 2010 of the aircraft called "Predator B". 
From 2013 until today the 32nd Stormo, with the APR aircraft supplied, has carried out aerial surveillance activities in the Mediterranean in the context of the military and humanitarian operations "Mare Nostrum", "Mare Sicuro", "EUNAV for MED" and until 2014, in the Gulf of Aden, as part of the "EUNAVFOR Atalanta" anti-piracy mission. In 2014 it was set up as part of the multinational law enforcement operation against ISIS "Inherent Resolve" and a further commitment to air surveillance, in particular the fight against illegal trafficking in human beings in the Mediterranean Sea, and again in 2014 it was risked in Sigonella (CT) air base. There are also numerous activities to support internal security, including the "G8" held in 2009 at L'Aquila, for the "Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy" from 2015 to 2016 and for the "G7" held in Taormina ( ME) in 2017. In July 2017 the 61st Gruppo Volo was reconstituted  at the Sigonella air base and equipped with APR "Predator A +" aircraft and with hierarchical dependence on the 32nd Stormo. 
In May 2016 the 13rd Gruppo Volo is reactivated at the 32nd Stormo in anticipation of the arrival at the headquarters of the new futuristic 5^ generation F 35 "Lightning II" (Joint Strike Fighter) aircraft, subsequently acquired in Amendola, first base in Europe, 12 December of the same year. Currently from the 32nd Stormo of Amendola depend on the 13rd Gruppo Volo, the 28th APR Gruppo Volo, the newly created 61st APR Gruppo Volo and the 632st Squadriglia Collegamenti. 
On 12 December 2016, the 32nd Stormo, was the first base in Europe that officially acquires the futuristic 5th generation JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) aircraft. 
The 13rd Gruppo Volo, reactivated on 19 April 2016, was the first in Italy and Europe to acquire the JSF aircraft and is currently proceeding with a rapid increase in the capacity of the weapon system to achieve its full operation capacity. 
The recent acquisition and introduction into operational service of the JSF aircraft, hosted in innovative infrastructures particularly oriented to environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, and the numerous and diversified missions in real operations carried out on deployments in Italy and abroad by the Predator weapon, make the 32nd Stormo of Amendola one of the most operational and avant-garde departments of the Aeronautica Militare. 
From 1 March 2018 this weapon system is an integral part of the national air defense system. The 28th APR Gruppo Volo, equipped with MQ9-A (Predator "B") and MQ1-C (Predator "A +") aircraft, extremely dynamic unit of the Department and constantly employed outside the national borders, is able to conduct aerial operations with remote piloting arrangements. Among the numerous awards, in 2013 it received a solemn commendation from the Armed Forces. 
The 61st APR Gruppo Volo, reconstituted on 10th July 2017 and located on the basis of Sigonella (CT), is the new operational unit of the AM equipped with airplanes remotely piloted MQ1-C (Predator "A +") with the task to consolidate the presence and surveillance activity of the APR aircraft in the context of the national security system competition, especially for the Mediterranean Area. 
The peculiar and consolidated ISTAR capabilities (Intelligence, Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) of the Predator weapon system included in the 32nd Stormo, make it one of the most sought-after AM structures for "dual use" in favor to the community , and in this context the collaboration agreement signed in 2014 with the Public Security Forces with the task of contribute the security for events of international relevance.
The authors would like to thanks the Lt. Gen. Rosso, the Col. Marzinotto (32° Stormo), the Col. Maldonado (Ejército del Aire), the Col. Merola (UCOM), the Maj. Testa (UCOM), and the Capt. Fantozzi (UCOM). 
Images by Omar Rigamonti and Marco Papa 
Text by Omar Rigamonti 
Produced by Giorgio Ciarini 
November 2018