On the Italian edition of the Huffington Post, journalist and researcher Roberto Colella wonders whether the Italian Air Force can really give a meaningful contribution to the international air campaign against the Islamic State. Such a contribution has been proposed by the Government, reportedly under pressure by the United States, and will be debated by the Parliament.
Colella explains that the Italian Air Force uses mainly the Panavia Tornado, an old aircraft which was designed for low altitude flight in order to pierce the Soviet airspace. In modern wars, the Panavia Tornado is vulnerable, and indeed two were shot down by Iraq during the Cold War. As a consequence, the Italian pilots were captured by the Iraqi forces and shown on TV. The Air Force indeed wants to switch to the Lockheed Martin F-35, but this is proving difficult in times of budget cuts.
Italy is credited with inventing military aviation at the beginning of World War I, but during World War II the Royal Air Force proved inadequate, clearly showing its limits in the bombing campaign against Malta.