Italy has completed the first Mission Data File (MDF) on its own, becoming the next F-35 Partner Support Complex (PSC) partner nation to do so.

This was confirmed by the US Air Force (USAF) in a media release on 16 December.

The achievement has marked a significant milestone towards achieving full operational capability on Italian F-35 fleet.

Following MDF’s successful completion, the Italian forces will now upload data files to aircraft and subsequently commence field tests.

The findings/results of this test will be used by the team to make further improvements in the MDFs.

The MDF, which in this case has been provided for the Italian Air Force’s F-35 Lightning II fighter jet fleet, is crucial in providing information about potential threats in a particular area to the pilots.

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It allows pilots to understand nature of threat, such as surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and radars, and how to counter them. This information is a combination of mission data and what aircraft sensors absorb while operating.

Once the aircraft lands, the pilot reviews the recorded information and accordingly provides feedback on MDF performance, which is then delivered to concerned mission data developers to enhance the future performance and operations.

F-35 PSC director Robert Kraus said: “The lab is really a hardware in loop test facility, and we have effectively all Electromagnetic Warfare equipment through the aircraft being stimulated by threat simulators and a master computer running the overall scenario.”

Activated in 2016, the F-35 PSC falls under 53rd Wing, based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. It currently houses seven international partners, that have acquired F-35s from the US and are supporting the US initiative to collect/develop MDFs.

The first country to receive MDFs was Norway.