The Italian Air Force will train Swedish fighter pilots over the coming decade as part of a recent agreement between the two allied nations.
Under the deal signed Monday, over 100 Swedish pilots and a dozen instructors will receive basic flight training at the Galatina air base in southern Italy starting next year.
They will also undergo advanced training at the International Flight Training School in Sardinia to familiarize themselves with the complex operations of combat jets.
According to the head of the Italian Air Force, Lieutenant General Luca Goretti, the agreement is a significant step to ensure the safety and security of European skies.
“Finding agreements and synergies between countries that share spaces and orientations is always productive,” he said. “Working with Swedish colleagues will represent an opportunity for growth for both countries.”
Although many countries have already chosen to train at the Italian school, Sweden will be the first Nordic nation to send military pilots to the highly acclaimed facility.
Bolstering NATO Bid?
Stockholm’s decision to allow training of its fighter pilots in Italy could bolster its bid to join NATO.
In May last year, both Sweden and Finland handed in their applications to become the latest members of the alliance.
However, while Helsinki was admitted in April, Sweden’s application has been held up by Turkey because it allegedly harbors Kurdish separatists.
Since then, Sweden has ramped up defense investments, including in July when it ordered SMART-L long-range radar for integrated air and missile defense.
It also contracted Iveco Defence Vehicles to deliver 400 light multi-purpose vehicles for the Swedish Armed Forces.