The Eurofighter Typhoon has replaced the last of the Italian Air Force's Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons in the air defense role, the consortium announced today. Italy currently has 62 Typhoons in its inventory dispersed between four squadrons at two different bases around the country.
The Italians have been operating 34 F-16A model jets, the bulk of which were Air Defense Variant aircraft, for the last 10 years. The aircraft were leased from US Air Force surplus stocks. Most of the surviving jets have been returned to the United States and have been placed into storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The program, which was dubbed Peace Caesar, was originally intended to run for five years.
The F-16s were intended to be used as a gap-filler during Italy's transition from the antiquated Lockheed F-104 to the new Typhoon.
Italy had originally intended to buy some 121 Typhoons, but in recent years cut that number back to 96 aircraft. Given that nation's present financial difficulties, it is difficult to predict if the current procurement numbers will hold.