Italian MoD press release, translated by Naval News
The Neptune Strike air-naval exercise, organized and conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), take place from January 24 to February 7, 2022, in support of the enhanced Vigilance and focused on the presence of aircraft carrier groups in the central Mediterranean, for the projection of aircraft embarked up to the limit of the range of activities, in implementation of the sea-based and expeditionary concepts typical of maritime forces.
The Italian Armed Forces units, affiliated to NATO’s Standing Naval Forces, including the frigate Margottini (flagship of NATO’s Standing Maritime Group – SNMG2) and the minesweeper Viareggio (part of NATO’s Standing Mine Countermeasures Group Two- SNMCMG2), takes part in the exercise.
The Neptune Strike is also supported by an Air Force KC 767 refueler performing Air to Air Refueling (AAR), an in-flight refueling operation between airplanes that allows refueled aircraft to fly for longer periods of time.
The Air Force can refuel in flight using Boeing KC767 aircraft delivered to the 14 ° Stormo of Pratica di Mare (RM) and KC-130 aircraft supplied to the 46 ° Air Brigade of Pisa.
Furthermore, from 1 to 7 February, the Task Group comprised of the Cavour aircraft carrier (with an air tactic group onboard), a Doria-class destroyer, the frigate Marceglia, a refueling unit, and a U212 class submarine join the exercise and, following that, will conduct joint training activities in the Central Mediterranean with the naval groups of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and the U.S. aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman.
About Neptune Strike 2022
Neptune Strike 2022 highlights the natural evolution of NATO’s ability to integrate the high-end maritime warfare capabilities of a carrier strike group to support the defense of the Alliance. Neptune Strike 2022 accomplishes the long-planned handover of command and control of the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) from SIXTHFLT to STRIKFORNATO and the wider Alliance. It represents a strong sign of transatlantic unity and readiness.
Neptune Strike 2022 is the execution phase of a long series of activities known as Project Neptune, conceptualized in 2020. The activity focuses on overcoming the complexities of integrating command and control of a carrier strike group to NATO.
Previous events in the Neptune series include table-top exercises at SIXTHFLT headquarters in Naples, Italy, last year, and a STRIKFORNATO embarks in 2021 aboard Mount Whitney called Neptune Challenge. Neptune Challenge integrated the two staff aboard Mount Whitney in the Black Sea and developed the necessary procedures enabling the successful start of Neptune Strike.