Armed Forces of Malta



The presence of the Italian Military Mission (IMM) in Malta has taken form in the shape of technical assistance spread over three periods of time. Firstly, between 1973 and 1979, then between 1981 and July 1988, and lastly between July 1988 to date.

1973 - 1979

After a technical co-operation project between the Italian and Maltese Governments, the 'Missione Italiana d'Assistenza Tecnico-Militare'(MIATM) was established in on 27 July, 1973. This was made up of a group of Officers and Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) who had the task to train the personnel in the Malta Pioneer Corps in public works, improving local and international telecommunications networks pertaining to telegraph and telephone, and in the maintenance/ repair of government transportation assets.

The Italian Military Mission (IMM), as it became known, was withdrawn in 1979 upon the request of the Maltese Government. Amongst the completed major projects at this time were:

1981 - 1989

When a new agreement was reached in 1981 between Governments, which involved the ratification of the financial protocol between the two countries, two organizations were set up: the Italian delegation for Tecno-technical assistance (with a commitment to assist Maltese military personnel and to collaborate in public works) and the Italian Technical Co-operation Mission that was tasked with Search and Rescue (SAR) and helicopter pilot and technicians' training, along with training of divers, workshop supervisors, Dockyard heavy plant operators, land survey/mapping experts and physical fitness instructors.

Their work was suspended during the crisis in relations between Malta and Italy, that is between 4th December, 1984 and 16th September, 1985. Only SAR operations continued without interruption.

This period's work is characterized by the following projects:

1988 to date

On 14th July, 1988, a new memorandum was signed between the Italian Ministry of Defense and the Maltese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This memorandum established that there should be one organization, the MIATM, that had the commitment to:

A number of joint/combined exercises have been organized between the AFM and the IMM, and both have worked very well together. The AFM with the Ministry of Education organizes courses in Military English for Italian military personnel. A great step forward in the AFM's C3I system (Command, Control, Communication and Information System) has been made by providing the AFM's Operations' Center with a 1,000 watt Italian HF radio and an UHF-radios, used in recent exercises. An ex-Italian Air Force 'Frecce Tricolori' acrobatic team G91 aircraft was donated to the Malta Aviation Museum Foundation of Ta' Qali (same as used by the Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team). Assistance to the Lascaris War Rooms was provided with the furnishing of important documents about World War Two.


At present, the IMM is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Current projects underway include:

  1. hydrological rehabilitation of the Chadwick Lakes' valley;
  2. completion of rehabilitation works of the Fort Rinella's defensive ditchworks;
  3. excavation works and earth removal for the Malta Aviation Museum's extension at Ta' Qali;
  4. two terraced landscapes' construction in Mtarfa valley for agricultural purposes;
  5. construction of 14 sites in Malta and 7 sites in Gozo providing access points for swimmers and scuba-diving enthusiasts off rocky areas of the local coast-line;
  6. establishment and opening of rock-climbing paths and routes, 20 in Malta and 10 in Gozo;;
  7. assistance by IMM helicopter flying missions to Malta's Planning Authority for aerial photography purposes in conjunction with the UNESCO historical heritage recording of Maltese sites and vegetation situation control;
  8. search for World War Two aircraft wreckages in Maltese territorial waters, locating, mapping and identifying 20 wrecks utilising 5 Italian Navy ships.

IMM personnel resources in Malta total to 12 Officers and 35 NCOs from the three Service branches of the Italian Armed Forces. It is also equipped with two AB 212 helicopters, 15 heavy plant vehicles, 60 light all-purpose utility vehicles, radio telecommunications, and weapons. Shortly other vehicles and equipment are expected to arrive.

About 10 billion Italian lire have been earmarked for the modernization of the IMM so as to be better able to meet Maltese needs. In this perspective, the total value of equipment stationed at present in Malta is equivalent to 6.5 million Maltese lire with an annual running cost of 1.5 million lire annually.

Other activities IMM personnel are involved in are:

The IMM's present Commanding Officer (since 2007), is Colonel Giovanni Ormetti. *

SAR and overseas training

The Italian Air Force personnel stationed in Malta make use of equipment pertaining to the 3 FF.AA in the shape of two AB 212 helicopters for SAR missions.

This section of the IMM has taken part in an innumerable amount of SAR missions, such as the 5-day search for the Maltese yacht Esmeralda in 1992 that involved searching for four men lost at sea between the north of Malta and North Africa. Another in that same year was the 3-day search for the three-man crew aboard the Maltese fishing vessel Patrun that had a positive ending to it.

Besides this, the IMM helicopters have been involved in countless medevacs of patients between the Gozo Craig General Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital in Malta. The IMM has always been actively involved in the training of Maltese helicopter pilots and rescue personnel.

This effort embraced training for other Maltese soldiers in the fields of diving, air defense artillery/ radar, and naval workshops' operation.

Various exigencies require that Maltese personnel pursue their training overseas in specialized schools and establishments in Italy. Such training includes officer-cadet schooling, aircraft technician courses, fixed-wing pilot training, radar technician courses, anti Nuclear-Biological-Chemical warfare courses, and diver/firefighting training for Police personnel.

The media and common Maltese citizens give great attention and importance to the SAR operations and other works the IMM perform. Though not so publicized, there is great appreciation for the IMM's civil commitment, particularly from Government authorities.

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Last updated: July 2007