Without their main characteristic, stealthiness, which is a key element of difference from previous generation fighters, the F-35A Lightning II fighter jets of the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare) will participate in the INIOCHOS 2019 air force, which will begin on 1 April 2019.
Specifically, the six (based on the information up to now) Italian fighters will carry radar reflectors of the Luneburg type, which increase radar cross section (RCS) not only during the transition to and from the Andravida airbase but also throughout their participation in the exercise.
The radar reflector is reportedly a requirement of the US government, and it is self-evident that it aims to keep secret the performance of the fighter in a low-visibility configuration.
In the attached photograph, published on the valid “The Aviationist” portal, two radar reflectors on the right side of an F-35A (two more are installed on the left side of the fighter) are highlighted.
It is noted that radio transmission, the infrared spectrum trace, and electromagnetic emissions are the three basic parameters that determine the aircraft’s observability, ie the likelihood of detection by the opponent.
In this particular case, it is estimated that the decision to install radar reflectors throughout the exercise may have contributed to the fact that the fighters during their participation in INIOCHOS 2019 will be within radar range or other means of intelligence gathering information of countries that are hostile to the USA.
Of course, the installation of radar reflectors does not diminish the importance of the F-35A’s participation in “INIOCHOS 2019”. It will be a first-class opportunity to familiarize Hellenic Air Force personnel with the Fighter.
Lastly, Aeronautica Militare is attempting six F-35A Lightning II fighter jets that belong to the 13th Squadron (13º Gruppo) of the 32nd Wing (32st Stormo) “Cap. Pil. Armando Boetto “, based in Amendola, in the province of Foggia, central Italy.
Based on current planning, Aeronautica Militare will purchase 60 F-35A Lightning II fighters and 30 F-35B Lightning II fighters (STOVL: short takeoff and vertical landing).