Operations

Italy

IDS/ECR

Italy´s first Tornado was delivered to the 1st Reparto Manutenzione Velivoli (RMV) - Aircraft Maintenance Unit - based at Cameri on 17th May 1982. The 154th Squadron of the 6th Wing at Ghedi was the first operational unit receiving the new aircraft on 27th August 1982. This squadron, already devoted to bombing missions, maintained its original mission, while taking on an aerial reconnaissance role. From September 1993 on, the 6th Wing incorporated a second squadron, namely the 102nd, transferred from Rimini Air Base and which, in addition to the original operational duties, has been acting as the transition and training unit for the Air Force crews assigned to the Tornado fleet, following the closure of the TTTE at RAF Cottesmore. 

The 156th Squadron of the 36th Wing at Gioia del Colle was the second unit to receive a Tornado IDS in June 1982 and continued to perform the TASMO (Tactical Support to Maritime Operations) role, previously covered by the Starfighter. On 23rd July 1990, the first IDS was delivered to the 155th Squadron of the 50th Wing at Piacenza, which undertook the bombing role until 1st April 1994, when it was designated as the first squadron of the Italian Air Force to be dedicated to the primary SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) mission, being equipped with the specialised ECR version towards the end of 1994. Following the decision to convert the 36th Wing to the EF 2000, on 1st July 2008 the 156th Squadron has been placed under the command of the 6th Wing at Ghedi, rationalising the Tornado fleet by concentrating all the IDS variants still in service under one single command on one base.

Squadron Version Base Operations
102nd Squadron – 6th Wing IDS Ghedi 1994-
154th Squadron – 6th Wing IDS Ghedi 1983-
156th Squadron – 6th Wing IDS Ghedi 2008-
155th Squadron – 6th Wing IDS Ghedi 1985-1989
155th Squadron – 50th Wing IDS/ECR Piacenza 1989-
156th Squadron – 36th Wing IDS Gioia del Colle 1984-2008
311th Squadron – R.S.V. IDS/ECR Pratica di Mare 1990-

ADV

In the mid-nineties, the Italian Air Force sought an interim solution to equip itself with an aircraft that would offer a valid defence cover over the nation, resulting in a leasing contract covering the supply of 24 Tornado ADV aircraft, which were made available from the front-line squadrons of the RAF. In February 1995 the first air crews were sent to England for a conversion course at RAF Conningsby and a few months later, on 5th July 1995, the first aircraft for the 12th Squadron of the 36th Wing landed at Gioia del Colle. On 14th February 1997 the first ADV variant was delivered to 21st Squadron of the 53rd Wing at Cameri. In 1999 the Italian Air Force decided to concentrate the ADV fleet on a single base in order to achieve a greater operational efficiency. Consequently, in March 2001 the 21st Squadron was disbanded and its personnel and aircraft placed under the single control of 12th Squadron at Gioia del Colle. In 2003, the phased-return of the fighters to the RAF commenced, as the Italian Air Force began to equip itself with a fleet of F-16 fighters.

Squadron Version Base Operations
12th Squadron – 36th Wing ADV Gioia del Colle 1995-2004
21st Squadron – 53rd Wing ADV Cameri 1997-1999
21st Squadron – 36th Wing ADV Gioia del Colle 1999-2001