The Portuguese exercise CONTEX-PHIBEX entered the final tactical phase in which the Units and Commanders at sea will have to tackle the escalation of the simulated crisis scenario set to train the force in all warfare areas.
To support this scope the Italian Navy aircraft P-180 and its aircrew have been deployed in the portuguese air base nr 6 of Montijo to operate, under the control of the exercise director (DIREX), as unexpected airthreath to the Force. For its specific charecteristic the aircraft is particularry useful for maritime patrol and to simulate a low slow flyer attack. The unexpected attacks to the the force even if simulated, ensuring the maximum safety, will make the scenario very close to a real world crisis enviroment in which the Units have to mantaint a very high readiness in anti air warfare.
The Piaggio P-180 Avanti is a twin engine, turbine-powered aircraft that bridges the gap between turboprops (low speed and low fuel consumption) and turbojets (high speed and high fuel consumption). Designers incorporated a three lifting surface (3LS) configuration with a turboprop driving a pusher-propeller. When these design elements are combined with the use of advanced composites for structures and advanced aerodynamic principles, the P-180 is uniquely positioned for high speed, high altitude and low fuel consumption.
The Italian Navy P-180 Maritime mainly performs maritime surveillance operational missions by using the FLIR/TV camera system fitted on the aircraft. It can also perform logistic air transportation missions utilizing the specific CARGO aircraft configuration. Check flights could be performed as well to support the Navy Fleet Ships for testing and verification of their radars and sensors.
The fleet consists of 3 aircrafts, two of them are in High Density configuration FLIR fitted but other options are Passenger Transport, Cargo-Combi or Air Ambulance. One aircraft is in High Density version VIP. The Squadron, located at the military airport of Pratica di Mare, is under the command of a Senior Naval Aviator (Squadron Commanding Officer) who reports directly to the Italian Navy Naval Aviation Commander. The Squadron can rely on 4 functional areas to accomplish his mission as below specified:
-Command Area (CO Front desk / IT Area / Logistics and Infrastructure Area).
-Operations Area (Operations Office/ Training Area / Navigation Area / Statistics Area).
-Technical Area (Line aircraft Area / Logistics aircraft Area /Technical Publications Area/Training Area / Quality Management Area).
-Flight Safety Area (Materials Area, Incident and Prevention Area).
Considering the features of the aircraft, the P-180 is primarily used to support the IT Navy Fleet mainly for maritime surveillance missions and for logistic and sanitary flights. Secondarily for personnel transfer for short and medium range connections.
Specifically, the following tasks could be assigned:
-OPERATIONAL FLIGHT. It comprises a variety of personnel transfer flights necessary for the conduct of the operations.
-LOGISTIC FLIGHT. It represents the bounce of logistic flights for spare parts transportation to support the IT Navy Fleet.
-MARITIME PATROL. It encompass the whole maritime surveillance operational sorties.
-S.A.R.. The P-180 through his own FLIR/TV sensors could be used in S.A.R activities.
-SHIP SENSORS TEST. It consists of check flights performed to test and verify the radars and sensors systems of the Fleet.
- SANITARY FLIGHT. Utilizing the P-180 "High Density" aircraft through the installation of the special "Air Ambulance" kit .
The company that developped the program is the Piaggio Aero Industries S.p.A. and also ensures the logistic support of the fleet through an Integrated Logistics. The company provides the mentioned services through its own permanent staff, located at the Pratica di Mare site (where the aircraft is operated), or at the operational headquarters in Genova.