Italian recce Tornados to Kuwait

The Italian Air Force is sending four Panavia Tornados to Kuwait to join operations against Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) forces in Iraq and Syria. The Tornados will depart their base in Italy later in November, according to a letter apparently sent to the Italian parliament by Defence minister Roberta Pinotti on Friday 14 November.

The Tornados – together with 135 support personnel and crew – will be used to observe ISIS movements. According to some Italian media, officials feel that observation is crucial as “ISIS has learned to hide men and equipment in hospitals, schools and mosques”. Good intel is deemed necessary to be able to intervene without harming civilians.

Italy earlier already promised to send two MQ-1 Predator drones, plus a Boeing KC-767A tanker to support other nation’s fighter aircraft in air strikes over Iraq and Syria. The KC-767A was first deployed in the last week of October, also from Kuwait. The tanker is normally based with 14° Stormo at Practica di Mare.

The choice of Kuwait is somewhat interesting. Italy in 2002 established an Air Task Force at Al Bateen Airbase in the United Arab Emirates equipped with C-130Js of the 46° Brigata Aerea di Pisa (Air Brigade of Pisa). The Tornados will operate from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait, where they join seven Royal Danish Air Force F-16s that do bomb ISIS target. It is believed that the six Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornets also operate from this location.

© 2014 editor Elmer van Hest, with additional reporting by editor Marcel Burger

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A Italian Air Force Tornado takes off from Ghedi airbase, Italy. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A Italian Air Force Tornado takes off from Ghedi airbase, Italy. (Image © Dennis Spronk)