F-35A and F-35B – the two variants of the Italian Air Force’s fifth generation fighter jets – took to the skies in “beast mode” load out for the first time.
The flight with the conventional and short takeoff and landing (STOVL) aircraft was performed by the 32° Stormo wing from the 13° Gruppo squadron on November 26.
While not an official term, beast mode denotes F-35 aircraft flying with both internal and external loads. The aircraft carried AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and guided bombs during the training flight.
The training also proved an opportunity for the Italian F-35B variant to test the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing procedure for the first time.
As a Level 2 partner in the Joint Strike Fighter program, Italy has a total of 90 aircraft on order. The country initially planned to order 131 units but reduced the number to 90 in 2012.
The Italian Air Force will operate 60 F-35As and 15 F-35B. The country’s navy will operate 15 F-35B, which will also fly from Italian Navy aircraft carrier ITS Cavour.