Italian carrier ITS Cavour leaves Norfolk after completing F35B certification

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U.S. Sailors, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), greet the Italian Navy flagship, aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550), as it arrives at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: US Navy)

The Italian Navy flagship, the aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550), departed Naval Station Norfolk Apr. 16 after Joint Force operations with U.S. military forces in the Atlantic Ocean.

ITS Cavour participated in a sequence of operations with U.S. assets and the F-35 Joint Program Office has delivered a flight clearance recommendation to the Italian Navy for the safe operation of fifth-generation F-35B fighter aircraft, the U.S. Navy announced with a press release.

An F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) test team embarked on ITS Cavour to conduct sea trials, a series of tests and functional activities to create a safe flight operating envelope for the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the 5th generation aircraft aboard the recently upgraded ship.

The F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) team from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD comprises almost 200 people with the engineering and test pilot expertise and experience to conduct F-35B envelope expansion flight test, two specially instrumented developmental flight test aircraft, and support equipment.

The sea trials began on March 1 and two F-35B Lightning II jets landed aboard Italian aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550) in the West Atlantic Ocean.

During the sea trials, two F-35Bs of the ITF were embarked aboard Cavour and carried out more than 50 flight missions in challenging weather conditions sea states, a night session, around 120 vertical landings, 115 short take-offs with the aid of the ski jump, and two vertical takeoffs. These activities were followed by a sufficient amount of data analysis, yielding the information telling the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and the Italian Navy how to safely conduct F-35B flight operations on Cavour.

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Its Cavour During F35 Certification Tests (Source: Jsf.mil)

The F-35 Joint Program Office has delivered a flight clearance recommendation to the Italian Navy for the safe operation of fifth-generation F-35B fighter aircraft on the upgraded Italian Navy flagship aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550) at the end of March.

“It was a privilege to work alongside our Italian counterparts while they certified their flagship to launch and recover the cutting-edge F-35B,” said Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet. “I look forward to continuing to build upon our trans-Atlantic bridge, enhancing our collective capabilities and strengthening partnerships with our NATO allies.”

An F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) test team embarked on ITS Cavour to conduct sea trials, a series of tests and functional activities to create a safe flight operating envelope for the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the 5th generation aircraft aboard the recently upgraded ship. The F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) team from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD comprises almost 200 people with the engineering and test pilot expertise and experience to conduct F-35B envelope expansion flight test, two specially instrumented developmental flight test aircraft, and support equipment.

“It is extraordinary how the crew of ITS Cavour and the Integrated Team have reached, so quickly, a very high level of synergy and integration with great professionalism and a strong common will to achieve the ambitious goal,” Ciappina said.

In coordination with the Italian Navy, USMC MV-22s conducted shipboard landing qualifications on the deck of the Italian Carrier ITS Cavour. These flights increase interoperability between the Marine Corps and the Italian Navy, and increase the operational reach of Naval forces.”

The V-22 Osprey is a multi-engine, dual-piloted, self-deployable, medium-lift, vertical takeoff and landing tilt-rotor aircraft designed for combat, combat support, combat service support, and Special Operations missions worldwide. The platform’s primary function is amphibious assault transport of troops, equipment and supplies from assault ships and land bases.

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Usmc Mv-22B Osprey Pilots Conduct Night Deck Landing Qualifications Aboard The Italian Navy Aircraft Carrier Cavour, Off The Maryland Coast. (Image Credit: Usmc)

Also while operating in the western Atlantic, ITS Cavour collaborated with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55). They conducted a three-day interoperability exercise with support from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 and Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11. ITS Cavour also conducted dual-carrier operations alongside USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), marking the first time a Gerald R. Ford-class and Italian carrier operated jointly.

ITS Cavour departed Norfolk after disembarking the ITF personnel prior to completing the necessary preparation to undertake the last phases of the Ready for Operations campaign before returning to Italy. Cavour was also greeted by a performance by the U.S. Fleet Forces band as an expression of goodwill between the U.S. and Italian navies.

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