The Italian government’s worries about the deteriorating political and military situation in Libya, a sort of neighbour just across the Mediterranean, has become that strong, that the Rome’s Ministry of Defence has ordered a quartet of AMX light combat jets and a Predator on forward operational deployment to Sicily.
The Italian Air Force aircraft landed at Trapani Airbase, which will be their home for the time being, local media report. For now the AMXs are tasked with reconnaissance only, although arming them with ground-attack weapons could be easily carried out. The Aeronautica Militare jets flew in from their homebase Istrana, and are part of the 51 Wing (51 Stormo).
In 2011 the Italian Air Force was actively involved in NATO-led bombing operations against the military of the regime led by the then Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was subsequently killed by a Libyan rebel on the ground at close range after two months of NATO airstrikes in a rare cooperation with local rebel forces / Mujaheddin.
Since then Libya has not been stable at all, with the so-called Islamic State forces that control large parts of Syria and Iraq trying to get a third stronghold in the North African country as well. Several nations – including the US and France – are already monitoring the situation. US forces have executed pin-point airstrikes, including in November 2015 by a pair of McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15s, while Egyptian Air Force F-16s have carried out attacks against ISIS in Libya in February last year.
The length of the AMX deployment to Trapani is not known, but that the dispatch to Sicily is an illustration of raised concerns about how things are going in Libya is certain.
© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An Italian Air Force AMX light fighter / attack aircraft landing at Nellis AFB in 2009, for Red Flag (Image © Michael R. Holzwort / US Air Force)