Typhoons take over Italy air defense

May 25, 2012 at 11:54 AM

MUNICH, Germany, May 25 (UPI) -- Eurofighter is touting the fact that its Typhoon aircraft are now the sole combat jets defending Italy's airspace.

The Typhoon, which first entered service with the Italian air force in 2004, has completely replaced leased U.S. Air Force F-16s and now comprises four squadrons operating in Italy's northern and southern regions.

"Eurofighter is, from today onwards, the only air defense asset in the Italian air force," the company said Thursday.

The Typhoon is a twin-engine multi-role aircraft. It has a maximum speed at altitude of 1,550 miles per hour and a service ceiling of more than 50,000 feet.

Eurofighter, based in Germany, is a venture of EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems.

Italy, which had earlier flown F-104 jets, had leased 34 F-16s from the United States over a 10-year period under a program called "Peace Cesar" to fill the gap time between retiring the F-104s and becoming fully operational with Eurofighter Typhoons.

Eurofighter said it has delivered a total of 64 Typhoons to Italy so far.

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