The special color was the highlight of the celebrations at Istrana Air Base.
On Feb. 15, 2023, the 51° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), celebrated the 80th anniversary of the 103° Gruppo (Squadron) at Istrana Air Base. The squadron, also known as the “Indians”, was deactivated in September 2016, after 73 years of history. At the time, the unit was equipped with the AMX (or “Ghibli”) and its pilot transitioned to the other squadron flying the same aircraft from Istrana, the 132° Gruppo.
Although not currently active, the heritage and traditions of the 103° Gruppo are still strong in the 51° Stormo personnel who wanted to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the squadron with a small but interesting event and, above all, with the official presentation of a special colored A-11B (as the AMX ACOL is officially designated by the Italian MOD).
The AMX MM7163/51-72 was given a special paint scheme that features the color of the 103rd squadron (yellow), an Indian Chief head on the tail, the squadron emblem and a large bow with a long nocked arrow, extending from the upper surface of the wings to the nose. There are also the dates (1943 and 2023) and a large “Indians” inscription.
The aircraft was among the highlights of the celebrations organized at Istrana, that saw the participation of various Italian Air Force assets, including the T-346 Master, the Tornado ECR, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35A Lightning II and the MB-339PAN.
The 132° Gruppo of the 51° Stormo currently operates both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the remaining AMX Ghibli aircraft.
About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.