U.S. F-35s join Israeli, Italian, and U.K. partners for Falcon Strike 21 exercise

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Falcon Strike 21, a multinational training exercise led by the Italian Air Force, began at Amendola Air Base, Italy, on June 7.

FS21 is a joint, multinational exercise with participants from the United States working with service members from Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom, that optimizes the integration between 4th and 5th Generation aircraft, increases the level of cooperation in the F-35 logistics and expeditionary fields, and strengthens interoperability of allied and partner air forces during joint operations.

Aircraft planned to participate in the exercise include: U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II and F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft; U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft; Royal Air Force F-35B Lightning II aircraft; Italian Air Force F-35A and F-35B Lightning II, Gulfstream G550, F-2000 Eurofighter Typhoon, Panavia Tornado, AMX International aircraft, Alenia Aermacci T-346 aircraft, and MQ-1 Predator aircraft; and Israeli Air Force F-35I Adir and Gulfstream G550 aircraft.

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USAF F-35 Lightning II aircraft will participate on the first day of the exercise only. The USAF F-35 aircraft are assigned to the 4th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. U.S. F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft participating in the exercise are assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy.

In addition to enhancing combat readiness and strengthening bonds between allies and partners, Falcon Strike 21 provides participants the opportunity for developing capabilities in planning and conducting complex air operations in a multinational, joint force environment, leading to an advanced level of training for all participants. This includes a security environment where aircrews will have the ability to plan, brief, fly, and debrief at the same appropriate security level.