The carrier was welcomed by the Undersecretary of State for Defense Senator Stefania Pucciarelli
Taranto, 30 April 2021. The Italian Navy Cavour aircraft carrier has returned to Taranto this morning at the Mar Grande naval station, thus ending, after three months, the Ready for Operations (RFO) Campaign. The ship was “greeted” in the Ionian Sea by the missile destroyer Andrea Doria, the amphibious ship San Giusto and the submarine Prini.
Thanks to the RFO campaign, the Italian Navy’s flagship has successfully launched the fundamental activities in the qualification process to use the new weapon system consisting of fifth generation aircraft, the F-35 in the B version, with short take-off and landing vertical capabilities.
“This aircraft carrier represents the ultimate expression of a nation’s maritime power and naval diplomacy. The aircraft carrier capacity is indicative of the international rank of the country and is the pillar of the projection capacity on the sea and from the sea,” said the Undersecretary of State for Defense, Senator Stefania Pucciarelli, who welcomed the ship and crew representing the Minister of Defense, accompanied by the Navy’s Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, and by the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet, Admiral Paolo Treu.
The important results obtained in collaboration with the United States of America, during the activities just completed, constitute a fundamental step for the Navy that will begin to replace the AV-8B Plus Harriers, now reaching the end of their operational life cycle, and which aims to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC) by 2024. “The Ready for Operations campaign ended with the full achievement of the objectives initially proposed and led to the achievement by the US Naval Air System Command – the American certifying authority – of the authorization to use the F-35B on board the Cavour aircraft carrier “, said the satisfied Chief of Staff of the Navy, Vice Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone. The process will be complete with the acquisition of the Final Operational Capability with the delivery of the last aircraft.
Cavour’s Ready for Operations campaign represents a success of strategic importance for the Navy, Defense and the country, which further strengthens the transatlantic link with the United States, as stated by the Minister of Defense, Honorable Lorenzo Guerini, on the occasion of the greeting to the crew at the departure of the aircraft carrier from Taranto: “It is certainly a technical-operational activity – said Minister Guerini from the flight deck of the carrier – but with important implications on the strategic-military plan for Defense and for the country on the international scene. A result that would not have been achieved without the tenacity, professionalism and self-denial of women and men who strongly believe in their profession and their mission, ready to demonstrate their skills on every occasion, generous and extraordinary professionals of the Sea “.
During the Sea Trials, carried out in the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast of the United States, two American F-35B aircraft equipped for test activities, embarked on the Cavour, completed all the planned tests, carrying out over 50 flight missions , in different weather conditions and sea conditions, night activities, about 120 vertical landings and as many short take-offs with the help of the ski jump, as well as vertical take-off tests. The sea trial activities required an enormous commitment from the teams involved both on the flight deck and in the aircraft carrier hangar as well as in the operational premises of the Unit, from where the flight activities were managed. On board the aircraft carrier, an extraordinary integration was achieved between the Italian and American personnel, a real added value to ensure that the delicate take-off and landing activities of the F-35Bs were carried out safely, obtaining maximum effectiveness.
“I am deeply grateful to the men and women of my crew, for their professionalism and for the sense of duty they have highlighted in carrying out this ambitious undertaking, especially at such a difficult time for our families and for the company. whole country, due to the pandemic emergency – as the ship’s commander Cavour Giancarlo Ciappina – Their example of spirit of sacrifice and their generosity fill my chest with pride: it is thanks to the professionalism and sacrifices of our men and women , as well as their families, that the Navy – despite the small and always the smallest pool of personnel available – manages to effectively preserve the essential function of defense on the sea and from the sea and to confirm the role of the Armed Force as vital instrument for the safety of our seas and for the protection of the country’s economy, with a very strong maritime connotation “.
The RFO campaign, which lasted 3 months in which the ship traveled over 15,000 nautical miles, strongly affirmed the cooperative link with the US Navy and the Marine Corps.
In addition to the training sessions conducted in February with the US destroyer Stout and a maritime patrol aircraft, the activity with the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford, a US unit of the new and homonymous nuclear-powered class, was also of great impact.
Cavour also carried out certification activities on the flight deck to operate with the MV-22 “Osprey” tiltrotor operated by the Marines. The MV-22 “Osprey” aircraft is a multi-engine, dual-pilot aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capability thanks to the tilting rotors, designed for special operations support missions. The primary function of the aircraft is the amphibious assault transport of troops, equipment and supplies for naval units equipped with flight deck and ground bases. Another element added to the projection capabilities on the sea and from the sea.