The Italian Navy flagship, the aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550), arrived at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Feb 13 for a series of operations alongside U.S. military assets to attain the Italian Navy’s “Ready for Operations” certification to safely land and launch F-35B aircraft. While in the Western Atlantic, Cavour will be embarked by an F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) test team 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.
This carrier-based flight test and other actions with U.S. 2nd Fleet ships and aircraft improve interoperability and strengthen the relationship between two NATO Allies. While crossing the Atlantic from Italy, ITS Cavour was met by the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) and conducted a three-day interoperability exercise with support from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 and Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11. Specific events included integrated ship maneuvering, low-slow-flyer detect-to-engage, anti-surface warfare serials with P-8 participation, air defense/air intercept control event with F/A-18 participation, and C5I interoperability events in the Western Atlantic 10-12 Feb.
“We are deeply grateful for the warm welcome received by the U.S. Navy 2nd Fleet upon our arrival in the Western Atlantic waters,” said Capt. Giancarlo Ciappina, commanding officer of ITS Cavour. “My officers and the whole crew were impressed for the professionalism and seamanship shown during these three days of training by the crews of USS Stout, CVW 7 and CPRW 11. We consider a real privilege having the opportunity to sail and exercise alongside our closest allies and friends and we are very proud to share with the USN Community such important certification deployment, which will provide ITS Cavour and the Italian Naval Aviation with the 5th generation air combat capability of the Joint Strike Fighter.”
Upon arriving in Norfolk, ITS Cavour was hosted by USS John. C. Stennis (CVN 74). Stennis is coordinating and providing all pier services required by Cavour, to include refueling, diving operations, equipment and personnel on load, security, and contingency medical functions. The F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) team from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. (NAS PAX River) 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. U.S. 2nd Fleet exercises operational authority over assigned ships, aircraft, and landing forces on the East Coast and the Atlantic.