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Three nations stage F 35 drills over southern Italy

AMENDOLA AIR BASE, Italy — Italian F-35s flew training flights with American and British F-35s over southern Italy on Tuesday, ending a busy few days for joint training by nations flying the stealth fighter.

The day kicked off with two Italian aircraft taking off from Amendola Air Base in the heel of Italy alongside two RAF F-35Bs, marking the first joint exercise between the nations.

Despite recent revelations about a series of teething problems experienced by the jet, pilots said they were happy with its performance.

“I met the British wing commander yesterday, we talked for 10 minutes about a tactical mission that would have been impossible to fly that easily and that quickly with an older jet,” said Maj. Maurizio De Guida, commander of the 13th squadron of Italy’s 32nd Wing.

“We took off and within a few minutes we all knew what we were going to target because of the internal data links. The information sharing is so much easier with the F-35,” said RAF 617 Squadron Wing Commander John Butcher.

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