The Italian Air Force’s Contributions to Modern Air Power Development

On March 28th, Italy celebrated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of its esteemed Air Force. Italy played a crucial role in shaping the fundamental principles of modern air power, ever since the dawn of aviation.

Italian General Giulio Douhet, who joined the Italian army as an officer in the artillery in 1909, wrote a research paper on the importance of air power. In 1915, he depicted the character of total war and the significance of breaking the morale of civilians through aerial attacks, which later played a significant role in his development of the idea of “breaking nations” using air power as a military destruction tactic. In 1921, he laid the foundations of what is now known as strategic bombing in his book “The Command of the Air,” which was adopted by the United States of America during World War II and is still used today.

In reality, Italy had been using air warfare even before the past 100 years. In 1884, Italy used balloons for spying purposes, and it applied the same concept in the Italian war with the Ottoman Empire in 1911 by dropping bombs from air balloons. This helped in developing Giulio Douhet’s later ideas.

In Libya, a reconnaissance pilot dropped a bomb fixed to the body of the plane on the Libyan civilians during Italy’s invasion of their land in 1911, paving the way for the idea of bombing cities from the air.

The Italian Air Force was officially established in 1923, and it participated in several conflicts and wars, notably during World War II, where Italy was one of the Axis powers led by Nazi Germany. After its defeat, Italy joined NATO and became one of its significant members.

Italy has achieved industrial accomplishments in the aviation industry and participated in manufacturing several military fighters such as Tornado, AMX, and Typhoon. It is also a strategic partner with Britain in the Tempest sixth-generation fighter project, which recently welcomed Japan’s participation. The Tempest project is seen as a rival to the European joint FCAS project.

Italy is considered one of the major contributors to the American stealth fifth-generation fighter jet project “F-35”, where it locally manufactures components of it, and the Italian Air Force has recently received numbers of them.

Report: Ali Al-Hashim.

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