The Role of Italian Fighter Aircraft in Crisis Management Operations: Trends and Needs

Italian combat aircraft have played an increasing important role in the international missions in which Italy has participated in the post-Cold War era - from the First Gulf War to Libya, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Afghanistan. This participation has been a significant tool of Italy's defense policy, and therefore of its foreign policy towards crisis areas relevant to its national interests (from the Western Balkans to the Mediterranean), as well as towards its most important allies within NATO and the EU. This IAI publication analyses the role of these military capabilities in recent operations and their prospects for the future. In fact, a number of trends can be inferred from the operational experience in ten international missions, in which Italy deployed more than 100 combat aircraft in more than 13,000 sorties, clocking up 36,000 flight hours. These trends are considered in light of the recent developments in the doctrine of Air Power, as well as possible future scenarios for the use of combat aircraft in crisis theaters. The aim of the analysis is to understand the needs of the Italian Armed Forces - the Air Force and Navy in particular - which will have to replace a substantial portion of their current combat fleets in the near future due to the gradual obsolescence of the aircraft in service - an operational necessity linked to the inevitable political decisions regarding the options available in the field of military procurement for maintaining the capabilities required so far for international missions. In this context, the study looks into the acquisition of F-35 aircraft, also considering the industrial aspects of a multinational program that will produce more than 3,000 units for over 12 countries.

Report prepared within the framework of the research "Fighter aircraft' role in crisis management operations: Italy's trends and needs", presented at the conference on "La componente aerea nelle missioni internazionali dell'Italia: trend e scenari", Rome, 13 May 2014.

Italian version: Quaderni IAI 10.

Roma, Nuova Cultura, March 2014, 146 p.
Publication date: 

Acknowledgements, p. 7
Executive Summary, p. 9-21 (pdf.gif (151 byte) 393 KB)
Preface, p. 23-25
List of Acronyms, p. 27-29

1. Italy's participation in crisis management operations: fighter aircraft's role, p. 31-63
1.1. Iraq (1990-1991)
1.2. Bosnia-Herzegovina (1993-1998)
1.3. Kosovo (1999)
1.4. Afghanistan (2001-2014)
1.5. Libya (2011)
1.6. The role of Italian fighter aircraft in crisis management operations

2. Current and future air operations: doctrine and trends, p. 65-71
2.1. Air Power: doctrine's fundamentals
2.2. Trends from the recent operational experience

3. Scenarios of possible future air operations, p. 73-86
3.1. Establishing and enforcing a No-Fly Zone: "Protect Turians" scenario
3.1.1 Strategic context
3.1.2 Mission objectives
3.1.3 Critical factors of the operational environment
3.1.4 Adversary's capabilities and Course of Action
3.1.5 Air Component's Course of Action and required capabilities
3.2. Air support to land-based operation: "Stability in Banon" scenario
3.2.1 Strategic context
3.2.2 Mission objectives
3.2.3 Critical factors of the operational environment
3.2.4 Adversary's capabilities and Course of Action
3.2.5 Air Component’s Course of Action and required capabilities

4. The military needs of Italian Armed Forces and the F-35 programme, p.87-114
4.1. First key question: does Italian participation in crisis management operations serve national interests?
4.2. Second key question: what kind of air capabilities does Italy need to participate in crisis management operations?
4.3. Third key question: what procurement options are available to acquire this kind of air capabilities?
4.4. Forth key question: it is better to buy F-35 "off-the-shelf" or to participate in the multinational procurement programme?

5. The F-35 programme and Italy: the industrial perspective, p. 115-127
5.1. The best value for money approach
5.2. The Italian participation in the procurement programme

Conclusions, p. 129-130
Bibliography, p. 131-144
Annex I. List of interviews, p. 145-146

Research area