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Italians learn to fly RPAs at Holloman

Italian air force Lt. Col. Filippo Grosoli, 29th Attack Squadron MQ-9 Reaper pilot, and Italian air force Chief Master Sgt. Francesco Bitondi, 29th ATKS MQ-9 sensor operator, stand in front of an MQ-9 at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., May 29. Grosoli and Bitondi are part of an exchange program between United States and Italy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasey Close/Released)

Italian air force Lt. Col. Filippo Grosoli, 29th Attack Squadron MQ-9 Reaper pilot, and Italian air force Chief Master Sgt. Francesco Bitondi, 29th ATKS MQ-9 sensor operator, stand in front of an MQ-9 at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., May 29. Grosoli and Bitondi are part of an exchange program between United States and Italy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasey Close/Released)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- There's no doubt that Holloman Air Force Base is home to extraordinary missions, but we wouldn't be completely mission successful without the help of our foreign brothers and sisters. People are aware of our support from the German Air Force, but who else is helping the Holloman Remotely Piloted Aircraft mission?

The Italian air force is an integral part of Holloman AFB's RPA training mission and there is a strong collaboration between our forces.

"I was sent here to the United States in 2003 for training when Italy decided to buy the program, but didn't come to Holloman till January 2010" said Lieutenant Colonel Filippo
Grosoli , Senior Nation Representative, Italian air force.

Grosoli is assigned to the 29th Attack Squadron and is the commander of the Italian air force's training on the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper here.

"All the training we do here on Holloman AFB is directly on theMQ-1 and MQ-9s," said Grosoli. The Italian air force has 10 exchange members currently conducting training here.

The Italians have one sensor operator and one pilot who are qualified to train American, German and British aircrews.

The Italian air force follows the same model as the U.S. Air Force, with officers trained to be pilots and enlisted members trained to be sensor operators.

"Our enlisted members are mostly Italian intelligence personnel sent from different communities in Italy" said Grosoli.

Currently Holloman AFB is the only base the Italians use for RPA training worldwide. "Training for students is about 3 to 4 months. I've been here since January 2010, and it's been a great experience," said Grosoli. "Any exchange is a good experience, and it helps all of us learn from one another."

"The nice part of the exchange program is that everyone can have the same mentality, so if we're in a deployed location the different forces can collaborate together" said Grosoli.