The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has completed a two-week-long trilateral air defence exercise, called Falcon Strike, in Italy.

This was announced by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence (MoD) in a media release.

Concluded on 25 November, the exercise involved the participation of the RNLAF, the Italian Air Force, and the US Air Force (USAF).

It was primarily carried out at Amendola Air Force Base in southeastern Italy.

A part of the exercise was also conducted from five more Italian Air Force bases, a Sardinian shooting range and an Italian Navy ship. 

The latest iteration of the exercise involved the participation of around 1,000 personnel from the US, Italy and the Netherlands.

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The deployed forces carried out a series of operations with nearly 50 different types of aircraft to practise and hone their techniques, tactics and procedures.

The aircraft included F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets from the USAF, F-35 Lightning II aircraft from all three nations, and Italian Air Force’s tactical transport aircraft, helicopters and tanker aircraft.

RNLAF detachment commander major Mirko van Meerlant said: “Falcon Strike prepares our F-35 pilots to carry out missions against current and future threats worldwide.

“It was the first time Dutch F-35 jets participated in the annual Italian-led exercise. We look forward to practising more often with our Italian and US partners.”

According to the Dutch MoD, the recent activity allowed multinational forces to perform high-quality combat training with fifth-generation aircraft, including the F-35s.

It further allowed participants to train and operate together to strengthen the alliance.

Apart from the exercise, the Amendola base also hosted a strategic forum meeting of F-35 air chiefs last week, where the F-35 user nations discussed opportunities/challenges of fifth-generation aircraft in current combat scenarios.